Most financial firms are genuinely committed to improving gender balance among their senior executives. To that end, they have introduced a number of “women-friendly” programs, such as flexible hours, parental leave, and mentorship schemes. Helpful as they are, such measures do not fully address the problem, which also lies in the unconscious biases, expectations, and practices of organizational cultures, which have been created by predominantly male executives over decades. This HBR article, backed by recent research, explains what else needs to be done to fix this significant problem.
Financial institutions have been employers of women for decades: historically as tellers, secretaries, and junior administrative staff. In the 1980s, however, pioneering women began moving into management roles and into frontline business areas, such as investment banking. Today 47% of management and professional roles in American financial firms are occupied by women, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But this seemingly impressive statistic disguises an underlying lack of progress of gender equality in financial services. Women still aren’t making it to the top.