The financial sector is highly dominated by men, from the lowest paying jobs to the highest executive positions. Male workers are still seen as more likely to land a senior management position compared to their female counterparts. This is despite the fact that women workers have proven to be at least as equally efficient as men when it comes to handling managerial responsibilities.
In the United States, women in the financial and corporate industries have grown in numbers. However, only a fraction of them are given the opportunity to hold executive positions. The same is also happening on the northern side of the border. In Canada, almost 48% of the country’s total workforce is women. Sadly, only 0.32 percent of them are promoted to become corporate executives.
While there are efforts to create diversity in the workplace and to provide equal opportunities for career advancement in many financial and banking markets, the underrepresentation of women in the higher echelons of a business organization will tend to continue in the following years. In most cases, women in top executive roles are still the exception and not the rule.
In a study highlighted by the Harvard Business Review, Fortune 500 companies who have the highest concentrations of female managers and executives have performed better than other firms in their respective industries. This finding suggests that fostering women workers to become leaders in the workplace is not only logical, but wise. It makes a lot of business sense for companies to develop their female workers who have the potential to lead an organization.
The Harvard Business Review also cited that fostering women business leaders has lead to enhanced competence, efficiency and performance of the entire company, doubled with the fact that women carry valuable abilities to leadership positions that easily supports or complements those of their male counterparts. Though many business corporations are attempting to create gender balance at the management levels, there are still traditional barriers that hold women back on the career ladder.
Some of the hurdles that impede the full blown ascension of female managers come from the women’s side of the fence. Whether it is a fact or just perception, many women believe that their colleagues, their superiors, and ultimately their company do not take them seriously. Perhaps for this reason, studies have also shown that women are less likely to have the confidence to ask for promotions and pay rises when it is merited.
Another hurdle is the fact that most women are still the carriers of the most domestic responsibilities in many families. Aside from work, they have to think about their children and the needs of their household. Because of this, some women have to pass on important business trips or other functions that may have helped them network and create advantageous corporate relationships.
However, unfortunately the fault is not limited to women’s own perceptions. Gender bias still exists in modern workplaces; even when a hiring manager may not hold blatantly sexist views personally, it is not uncommon for managers to prefer a candidate who is less likely to want time off for pregnancy and childcare responsibilities. Despite the proven benefits of hiring a working mother- for example, increased company loyalty and multitasking skills- this is a bias which persists in many industries.
It is the unfortunate reality that many highly qualified female workers are not given the chance to become leaders in their field, despite their capabilities. Do companies need women at the helm? Yes. However, it might take a while before female business leaders become the norm in the corporate and financial worlds. Until then, if you are a female worker, the best thing you can do is make sure you are not placing limitations on yourself through a lack of confidence. Do not fall into the trap of selling yourself short. Put yourself forward and you may find that career advancement will follow.