macho vs matriarchs: promoting women in finance.

The issue of a macho, male-dominated culture in the financial services industry is an ongoing one.

In 2011, Sir Philip Hampton, former Sainsbury’s chairman said the financial services sector lagged behind others in terms of diversity, describing it as ‘still very much a male bastion’. 

‘This is what is has been like for a long time,’ he said. ‘There are elements of it that are just macho – they go out after work and it’s quite ‘clubby’ and male.’ 

More recently Virgin Money boss Jayne-Anne Gadhia blamed the “alpha male culture” for the near-collapse of Royal Bank of Scotland. 

Women on boards.

Only 23% of board directors of UK financial services companies are women, and only one in seven executive committee members are female in the UK. 

This week, the Evening Standard suggested the male dominated culture in the industry meant women were thinking twice before taking a job in the financial services sector. 

Strides have been made to shake off the outdated ‘white pale male’ tag associated with the industry but even with government support to improve female representation on boards 

As Charlotte Hogg, chief operating officer at the Bank of England put it, diverse companies are likely to do better business. 

“Decisions are better when people who have multiple experiences and points of view come together, because no one person, however intelligent they are, will have the answer.”

Diversity makes business sense.

Alison Starmer, managing director of Client Solutions at Randstad UK responded: “For decades the financial services industry has been perceived as having a macho culture.

"But today more women than ever are in senior positions in finance and government targets to get more women on boards seem to be working. For example, there are more women on FTSE 350 boards than ever before.

“As a single mother, I have experienced the value of flexibility in the workplace as well as the benefits of diversity. I'm proud to say that at Randstad, three quarters of our managing directors on the operational side of the business are females, which not only makes ethical sense but improves our business as well."

 

 

Many industries are missing out on exceptional talent by not tapping into the pool of those returning to work. "Returning to Work" is a series of inspirational stories powered by randstad.  In this series, workers describe the challenges and emotions of returning to work. You can access this series here.

< return to previous page