This week, I attended the launch of the ‘Women in Finance’ report which details the findings of the Inquiry set up by the Treasury Select Committee, headed by Nicky Morgan M.P.
Genderbuzz was proud to submit its paper to the Inquiry and we are quoted on Page 30 of the report. This week’s launch at the London offices of Bloomberg, included a panel session where the findings of the report were discussed. The Panellists were: Jon. P Terry of PWC, Tiina Lee, Deutsche Bank. Rushanara Ali, Labour M.P. for Bethnal Green and Bow, Alison McGovern Labour M.P. for Wirral South and Nicky Morgan Conservative M.P. for Loughborough. This is my summary of the discussion.
The Bonus Gap
When asked what key points she took away from the report, Nicky Morgan M.P said that that the Bonus Gap in Financial services between men and women and the language used in job adverts were key takeaways to focus on. She said that the Financial Industry will always compensate heavily through bonuses and more objectivity around the bonus process was needed. Nicky also said that many women are counting themselves out of applying for top jobs because of ‘legacy’ language in job applications which hadn’t changed in years. Firms need to look at that and update their ideas on what skills are really needed for top jobs in modern Finance and adjust their language accordingly.
Tiina Lee said that there needed to be explicit conversations around compensation, not only between managers but between women and men on how to negotiate compensation. She said that most men do not hesitate to go into their boss’ office over the course of the year to tell them about all the great things they were achieving. She encouraged women not to wait until bonus time to sing their own praises.
Jon. P Terry of PWC agreed that the area that he thought needed most work was the ‘Bonus Gap’. In an industry where a significant chunk of compensation was through bonus payments, the criteria for awarding bonuses must be objective and the front office businesses must constantly challenge the way in which they award these bonuses. He also added that we absolutely need to normalise conversations around pay.
Hiring and Promoting Women
Tiina Lee of Deutsche Bank said that there must be greater awareness of how we select women for senior roles and that hiring managers must insist on gender balanced shortlists. She said that many hiring managers don’t look hard enough for good female candidates and neither do recruiters and male candidates are hired for expediency to fill vacant posts. This needs to change.
Jon. P Terry said that if there were ‘proportional promotions’ of men and women, there would be a sea change within City Firms. Currently women are taking TWICE as long to get promoted from Middle to Senior Management.
Alison McGovern M.P said that, unconscious bias was the issue that struck her most in all the inquiry submissions. She felt that it was at the heart of the problem and wanted to know who is monitoring unconscious bias policies and what are the actual practices in City Firms around this. She said that that although we cannot change our instincts, we can change our practices and she would like more focus on this. Jon P. Terry agreed that unconscious bias training was not enough and that ongoing awareness must form part of every manager’s day to day development. He did say that he had seen ‘significant improvement’ on this in the last 5 years.
Cultural Change in City Firms
Rushanara Ali M.P. said that she felt not much had improved for Women in Finance and that that Financial Regulators have a responsibility to change this. She said that women in senior positions are still seen as a ‘risk’ and that there will be pressure on Regulators to enforce gender equality. Rushanara also stressed the immediate need to deal with the Gender Pay Gap. Nicky Morgan M.P said that firms risk huge reputational damage by not engaging in Diversity and that Senior Executives need to be involved from the get go so that managers further down the line feel that they have ‘permission’ to engage in it too.
I have worked and been connected to the world of Finance since the mid 1990s and yes, some things have changed for Women in the City but much remains the same. I agree with Rushanara Ali that the first thing to address urgently is the Gender Pay Gap, because let’s face it, in an industry which is all about the money, money is the starting point and the end game.