Making the finance sector add up for women

Unconscious gender bias - still plays a part in the finance sector

The experiences of men and women working in finance vary drastically in terms of pay, progression and prejudice, according to new AAT research. AAT surveyed 2,000 finance professionals, 1,000 female and 1,000 male, to get their views on gender issues in the finance industry.

The research shows differences in men and women’s experience of discrimination. Key findings include that men are twice as bullish as women about salary expectations and are more likely to push for – and get – pay rises. Also, while almost two thirds of men (60%) think men and women are treated equally when it comes to progression opportunities and remuneration, this is the experience of less than half of women (43%).

In addition, 60% of women in senior management positions say they have been discriminated against at work because of their gender, almost 20% more than men in the same position (42%), and almost three times as many women in middle management (37%) say they have experienced discrimination because of their gender than men in the same position (14%). This problem spans all levels except junior management level and is most pronounced at middle and senior management levels.

  • 61% of men believe men and women in their organisation doing the same jobs are paid equally, but less than half of their female counterparts agree (47%)
  • The top three reasons people identified for unequal pay were: the fact that men have historically always been paid more (58%); that the people deciding on salaries are more likely to be men than women (32%); and the persistent ‘old boys club’ mentality (28%)
  • 39% of 18-24 year-old women say men and women aren’t given the same career progression opportunities, twice as many as 18-24 year-old men (18%)
  • Almost half of mothers (48%) think that having children is a top barrier to progression in the workplace, compared to just 30% of fathers
  • Almost a third of mothers (32%) say that men and women aren’t given the same career opportunities because child caring responsibilities fall mostly to women, nearly double the proportion of fathers (17%)
Olivia Hill, Chief HR Officer at AAT

Olivia Hill, Chief HR Officer at AAT, says:

“Our new research suggests men and women experience the working world in finance very differently, with men much less aware of issues relating to gender inequality simply because they aren’t exposed to them. It appears gender bias – albeit unconscious – still plays a part in the sector.

To help champion positive progress, AAT has launched a white paper which explores the reasons behind inequality issues in the finance sector and gives organisations of all sizes the expert advice and support they need to redress the balance. All great industries need a diverse and motivated workforce to ensure they grow from strength to strength. The UK finance sector shouldn’t be any different.”

Existing research shows more women at senior management and board levels boosts company earnings and more balanced boards lead to more responsible, ethical decision making. With so much pressure on the finance sector to operate more transparently, avoid a future financial crisis and help lead the UK into prosperity, the business benefits of addressing these barriers to equality are clear.”

Professor Sir Cary L Cooper CBE, 50th Anniversary Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School says:

“This new survey that explores the contributing factors behind the large gender pay gap and barriers to progression for women in finance is very worrying, in a sector that is vital to UK Plc.  If we don’t confront this unconscious gender bias and barriers to opportunity for women in finance, we will lose large numbers of women from the sector which puts at risk our international reputation as a leading banking and finance centre.”

Find out more about AAT’s research and recommendations for minimising gender discrimination by viewing our Making the finance sector add up for women white paper