This includes ensuring more women are able to pursue a career in sectors that might initially be dismissed as being male dominated.
If we take the real estate sector as an example, only 30% of senior leadership positions were held by women in 2019. This is down from 32% in 2017. The proportions are similar when we look at the financial services industry. According to the 2019 FCA report on gender diversity in UK financial services, the percentage of senior management positions held by women was 38% in 2018.
Of course, we should not let these figures downplay the fact that important progress has been made to promote gender equality in the workplace. The government has been particularly active commissioning research and introducing regulations to ensure businesses are being transparent about their approach to promoting a gender inclusive workplace environment.
Companies also need to take it upon themselves to ensure that they are doing everything in their power to support the aspirations of women. This is something that is particularly relevant to the specialist finance industry.
Gender diversity will benefit the specialist finance industry
If gender diversity is fully embraced, there will be significant benefits for the specialist finance industry. So how can it be achieved? Is positive action the right type of solution?
While there are benefits to come from positive action, it should not distract from the real objective at hand — that is, rewarding and promoting people based on their merits instead of their gender, race, culture or creed. By taking the notion of gender completely out of the equation, we are actually fostering the growth of a robust, innovative and highly skilled workforce.
This is particularly important when it comes to the specialist finance sector. Market conditions are constantly changing, meaning that lenders cannot be complacent and rely on traditional processes and actions to address new challenges. Creative and innovative thinking is needed, and this is where gender diversity can play a powerful role.
A study by the Boston Consulting Group found that companies with above-average diversity management teams reported innovation revenue 19 percentage points higher than that of firms with below-average leadership diversity. The reason for this is due to the innovation and creativity gender equality can deliver in terms of both creating and implementing an idea. A clear metric is evolving here: gender equality is becoming synonymous with revenue generation and growth.
The bottom line here is that gender equality works to the benefit of the entire community. That is why businesses (including those who make up the specialist finance sector) need to ask whether they are really doing enough to promote gender diversity in their respective industries.