Women Narrowing the Gap on Men in the Finance Workplace

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Blomfield Group financial services recruitment declares that some progress has made over the past 5 years to reduce the gender gap in the financial services workplace, but there is still more to be done

New figures from financial services recruitment and HR services firm The Blomfield Group show that although significantly more men than women apply to financial services jobs (excluding secretarial support roles) women are better at securing interviews. However, they are less successful in converting the interviews into actual jobs.

In this research, the Blomfield Group has analysed key elements of the financial services recruitment market, taking a snapshot of current market trends and comparing them with five years ago.

  • Women are securing considerably more financial services jobs than five years ago, but still fewer than men;
  • Fewer women apply for or secure senior roles, meaning that women’s average salaries remain lower – but the gap is closing;
  • Despite a rise in women applying for jobs, there is still a serious shortage of female candidates, who account for just 43 percent of total.

Candidate Registrations

In 2001, 42.2 percent of applicants registering for financial services jobs were female, compared with 57.8 percent who were men. By 2006, the proportion of women had risen to 43.1 percent, compared with 56.9 percent men.

Keith Robinson, managing director of Blomfield’s outsourced HR business Origin, comments: “Over the five years, the proportion of women applying for jobs in financial services has crept up, but it’s only an incremental change.    Progress has been made, but it would appear that many female applicants are still deterred by a career in financial services.”

It would seem the real problem lies with the continuing misapprehension that financial services can not offer a long term career path to women. As Tara Ricks, Managing Director of Blomfield’s permanent recruitment business Joslin Rowe, notes, "I genuinely feel that our clients wish to hire an equitable number of men and women. The issue is more about ensuring the industry does its utmost to attract females in the first instance by targeting university undergraduates and school leavers to smash lingering stereotypes and educate them on the opportunities available to young women.”

Candidate Interviews

Notwithstanding the relatively lower level of applications from women, they are disproportionately more successful in securing interviews. 50.5 percent of interviews are with women, and 49.5 percent with men. Keith Robinson explains: “This shows that the financial services sector is positively discriminating to attract a greater number of women into areas like IT and graduate recruitment. This is why companies are very sensitive about high profile sex discrimination claims because all their good work is suddenly overshadowed.”

Job Placings

Women’s ability to secure a disproportionate share of interviews (relative to registrations) is only to some extent translated through into actual jobs. 49.6 percent of jobs secured are by women, compared with 50.4% by men, who thus get 1.4 percent more jobs than women. However, this compares very favourably with five years ago, when men gained 10.5 percent more jobs than women.

“While a woman candidate is about 17 percent more likely to get an interview than her male counterpart, it does not mean that she is more likely to get the job. It seems that men continue to do slightly better in terms of securing the job, perhaps selling themselves harder than women do. Keith Robinson continues: “Even so, the fact remains that women are gaining a higher proportion of jobs than they were 5 years ago.”

Salaries

In terms of pay, there continue to be relatively fewer women in higher paid, more senior roles, so that there remains a significant differential in average pay between men and women, although progress has been made in narrowing the gap over the past five years.

In 2001, the average annual salary was £23,347 for both genders, with women earning on average £22,074 and men £24,497, a difference of £2,423. Now the average has risen by a massive £12,023 or over 50% to £35,370. Men make an average of £36,907and women £3,060 less, at £33,847.

“The pay differential stems partly from the fact that fewer women are applying for, or getting, the higher paid jobs – it’s not a matter of being discriminated against based on the same work. For example, of the jobs paid over £50,000, 62% of them go to men and only 38% to women – and the ratio of higher paid jobs has scarcely changed since 2001.”

In percentage terms, the pay gap has narrowed slightly, but remains. Women now earn 95.7 percent of average pay, compared with 94.5 percent in 2001. Men on the other hand earn 104.3 percent of average pay, compared with 104.9 percent in 2001. In 2006, women earn 8.3 percent less than men, as compared with a difference five years ago of 11.0 percent.

Summary

Keith Robinson concludes: “Women are highly valued in the financial services industry and many of our clients are keen to attract them, and indeed offer them flexible working arrangements and other benefits like childcare vouchers and creche facilities to retain them when they have a family. However, the fact remains that financial services remains a victim of its old masculine image and that women in more senior roles are a relative rarity – hence the lower average salaries. Progress has been made over the past five years in terms of attracting more women to the industry, and indeed, when they do apply, they tend to be very successful. The idea of a ‘glass ceiling’ appears to be a stronger perception than a reality and for young, talented women graduating this summer careers in financial services holds real potential.”    

Notes to Editors

Established in 1988 The Blomfield Group provides the financial services sector with a comprehensive recruitment and HR service via its three subsidiaries, Joslin Rowe, Origin HR and Firth Ross Martin Associates, across the UK and Ireland. On 7 April 2006, international staffing services company Vedior (headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands) raised its stake in The Blomfield Group from 18% to 70%.    

For further information/interviews, contact:

Belinda Martin - +44 7789 682 754

Blomfield Group, London

Brian Thorn - +44 20 7845 7900 / +44 7712 188812 (BT)

The Wriglesworth Consultancy

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Michael Hanna
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