Addressing the Sex Equality Issue in Finance

May 8th 2021 | Posted by phil scott

Addressing the Sex Equality Issue in Finance

Addressing the Sex Equality Issue in Finance

The issue of the lack of representation of women in senior roles is not restricted to any one industry nor to finance roles.

However, it’s certainly true that there is still a problem when it comes to sex equality between male and female senior finance professionals.

One of the major concerns is that there has been a tendency to attempt to ‘teach’ women how to be competitive in what is traditionally a male centric environment. Much of this learning is often based on the ideas of men. So, how can the situation be changed in order to properly address the sex equality situation?

Bringing inclusion to the fore

Although initiatives like the Women in Finance Charter have been launched over the years to harness the talents of women, there is still much work to be done to bring balance in the world of senior finance.

There is still a male-dominated culture which means that men find it easier to fit in at the senior level. Men are also more likely to be promoted into senior roles. Part of the reason for this is that women often do not put themselves forward for a role until they are more than 90% qualified to do it. Men will often put themselves forward even if they are only around 50% qualified.

So, the culture within an organisation determines diversity levels and needs to be changed in order for meaningful progress to be made.

Looking at unconscious behaviour

In order to make changes, organisations need to understand the way their culture enables unconscious behaviour that affects diversity and inclusion performance. They need to focus on changing the culture from the top by showing senior leaders how their behaviour affects others.

Holding this mirror up to people helps them to understand the impact of their actions. Using personal reflection in this way is a positive way of empowering leaders to change their behaviour.

Sex equality also comes from nudging senior teams into removing unconscious bias in recruitment and promotion within the finance function. For example, the use of anonymised CVs means that bias cannot be a determining factor.

Mixed interview panels are also valuable. They allow the skills of all candidates to be seen side by side as opposed to one on one interviews where direct comparisons can be difficult and unconscious bias may take over.

Culture is something that is ingrained in many organisations. Introducing change can be problematic. Companies that are dedicated to addressing the sexual equality issue ensure that they embrace positive change. They do this by focussing on the men in the organisation and enabling them to understand how they may need to alter their actions and behaviours. Only this type of focus allows organisations to become places that recognise and embrace the potential of senior female finance professionals. It also turns organisations into workplaces where women feel valued and where they are more likely to want to establish and sustain a senior level career.

If you are an FD/CFO looking for your next role, register with us. If you are on looking to hire an FD/CFO, get in touch.