This week, the European Central Bank proposed using gender diversity as a criterion for the approval of board members of the banks it oversees. Such mandates are a lever to increase the representation of women in an industry still dominated by men.

Another lever – the subject of a recent qualitative study – is to change the way banks distribute opportunities and rewards, reports the DealBook newsletter.

When women were asked by Women in Banking & Finance, a London-based non-profit group, to reflect on their careers, common complaints included that they were heard differently simply because they were women and that they had to find an innovative niche to be successful in the financial industry. Men, on the other hand, were more often welcome on the traditional paths. It was even worse for black women, for whom “the headwinds were more intense and the tailwinds fewer,” according to the report.

Half of the women surveyed specifically mentioned “mediocre” men, who they said could survive more easily than women with comparable abilities. When asked to explain, the women cited factors that included men belonging to a social group where other members are caretakers; always be there when women are more likely to take parental leave; and a greater reluctance of businesses to “manage” men because they are seen as the breadwinners.

Competent and empathetic managers and bonuses for collaboration might be a solution. Women said empathetic managers gave them the access and freedom to seek rewarding career opportunities, but said their companies did not reward inclusive managers. Instead, the report’s authors suggested solutions such as restructuring bonuses based at least in part on team performance, regular reviews of assignment allocation and extended promotions by gender and programs. formalities to facilitate the return of employees from parental leave.

The banking sector has relatively few female managers. According to the European Banking Authority, only 8% of directors general of European credit and investment institutions and a fifth of positions in the management bodies of the largest European banks are women. In U.S. financial services firms, women made up just under 22% of leadership positions in 2019, according to Deloitte’s most recent analysis. If current trends continue, the analysis found that gender equality in leadership roles in financial services firms may not happen until 2085.


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