Women are significantly underrepresented in leadership positions of financial services. A new BCG global study finds that, although finance and accounting employ men and women equally, women hold only about one-third of senior finance positions. The discrepancy is even stronger for the top job functions: only one in ten CFOs are women. This is often down to: insufficient commitments to leadership diversity or absence of role models and female champions.
Having women finance leaders is not only good for a company’s commitment towards gender diversity, but also has important advantages for organizations. Companies that have a more equal share of women, especially in senior positions, accelerate innovation, resilience and financial benefits. Additionally, women in finance functions are more likely than men to have multidisciplinary backgrounds, potentially enhancing their abilities to lead enterprise-wide transformations (any shift, realignment or fundamental change in business operations).
Strategies for promoting more women leaders
- Leadership giving visibility to role models: companies must create platforms that give better visibility to their women finance leaders. This includes appointing women ambassadors and spokespersons in the finance function who champion gender equality and creating forums for the exchange of ideas and experiences among women and across seniority levels.
- Recruitment seeking talent at all senior levels: companies should increase their hiring efforts across all seniority levels and be open to filling finance positions with women who have nontraditional profiles and backgrounds.
- Enabling and promoting women throughout their careers: networks and trusted advisors can help women in finance navigate their way through career trajectory. To connect junior and senior women professionals, companies can develop formal sponsorship, mentor, and champion programs as dedicated platforms for exchange.
- Eradicating discrimination against women: companies need to counter the biases of evaluators, of either gender. Standardizing pay grades and offering equal pay helps to demonstrate commitment to equal treatment. Also, implementing and standardizing gender equality policies and procedures are key to eradicating discrimination within your organization.
- Building an inclusive workplace: companies must establish an understanding of diversity in their company culture. Making benefits, such as parental leave and flexible and hybrid working opportunities, available to both men and women.
- Leadership monitoring progress and adjusting targets: companies should monitor the status of diversity efforts and consider the next steps needed to foster improvements to enhance gender equality at all levels of the organizations.
Given a strong business case for change but insufficient action so far, much more work needs to be done. To drive greater opportunities for women leaders and move the needle toward gender equity, companies should take intentional, data-driven, results-oriented actions while considering and eradicating the systemic biases that have propagated the disparities in gender equity we see today.