WIBF celebrates its 40th Anniversary with a Virtual Market Open at London Stock Exchange
WIBF was delighted to celebrate its 40th Anniversary, and the launch of its Accelerating Change Together Research Programme, with a Virtual Market Open at London Stock Exchange on Thursday 26th November.
Women in Banking & Finance has been championing women in financial services for 40 years, and we are delighted during our 40th anniversary year to be launching our Accelerating Change Together Research Programme, in collaboration with the London School of Economics and The Wisdom Council.
Elise Badoy walked us through the report’s initial findings that challenge current gender stereotypes and ask us to change the narrative; to bring the discussion to a focus on workplace policies and structures that will allow organisations to retain and unlock the full potential of financial industry talent. The message from WIBF members and survey participants has been clear and consistent: the challenge is the missing middle. The critical talent pipeline, which sits between the entry level to our sector and the most senior levels. The success of achieving equality of opportunity, and representation, at both the junior and senior levels depends on this talent pipeline in the middle.
These survey results not only highlight the issues, but brings important insight and data to working through solutions. We got to hear that women do not lack aspiration or the confidence to ‘lean in’ – and that access to development opportunities is key. Covid is having a positive impact, with a shift in attitudes towards the value in flexible working. That the perception of fairness in the working environment is critical to satisfaction and a low intention to leave.
The survey of nearly 2000 financial services professionals, conducted by The Wisdom Council, a financial services consumer insight and engagement specialist, and The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), also found that women are significantly more likely to see barriers in their careers than men (79% versus 58%) and that while women and men in this study do not differ in ambition, the majority of women are failing to achieve a positive career cycle of access to stretch assignments.
Our excellent panel thoughtfully considered some of the bigger questions arising from the survey and shared insight into what financial institutions are doing to redress the gender balance.
David Schwimmer shared insight into the key role London Stock Exchange Group is taking to develop capabilities and to inspire and identify women with extraordinary talent.
Alison Malton explained the relevance of ambition to women in their professional goals and aspirations. And she challenged social norms in considering that this female aspiration can be quite entrepreneurial and quite risk taking.
Dr Grace Lordan helped us to look at the data and to make sense of the evidence.
She invited us to think further, and to create policies that work for better outcomes. The value is in being able to utilise a more equal and diverse talent retention pool. She reminded us that we usually start from the premise that men and women are different, and so we usually start looking for differences when trying to create policies that allow us to retain women in the workforce. Whilst there is no silver bullet, if we look at the evidence, flexibility is the policy that has actually created the largest possibility of being retained for women.
The discussion was informed, engaged and relevant. Part 1 of the Report is available here, and will form an important foundation for the wider Accelerating Change Together Report, to be published in 2021, and for the continuing 4 year research programme. Our research benefits from the insights and responses of all our survey participants. Please do visit the ACT webpage if you are interested in becoming involved or are interested in learning more about the coming Research Community.