The recent focus on increasing gender diversity in the financial services sector has centered on women in the mid to senior management level, while ignoring women at the start of their careers. A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has revealed that two-thirds of young women do not believe they will be able to reach a senior level within their organization.
The new report, ‘Female millennials in financial services: strategies for a new era of talent’ has found that limited opportunities for career progress is the main reason why female millennials leave their job in financial services. The report, which draws on interviews on more than 8,000 female millennials globally, found that the financial services industry faces a number of hurdles in attracting and retaining this generation of women.
The PwC research found that one in five of this generation of women do not want to work in financial services solely due to the sector’s image. Insurance was the least popular sector, while asset management fared better due to the high number of positive senior female role models.
Experts believe that the sector’s image is not just a deterrent to female millennials, but that it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract graduates and millennials of any sex to financial services. This generation has a stronger social conscious than previous generations and also places a far greater value on work-life balance.
The financial services sector has a two-fold challenge, to demonstrate to society that they give back and add enormous value to the economy and social causes, and to demonstrate that you can have a good work-life balance in financial services. Financial service firms also need to urgently re-define their definition of what makes a leader, re-evaluate how they develop their people and create a structure where women can thrive and not be stifled.
However, industry sources say there is little evidence to support real change in this space any time soon. They believe that, rather than providing mere rhetoric, large financial service organizations need to act first by taking a stand on this issue, only then will everyone else follow-suit.