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Women in finance: tackling the disparity

Finsia yesterday announced the launch of a new industry body – the Women in Financial Services Forum – in partnership with BNZ, to tackle gender equity in the industry.

Finsia yesterday announced the launch of a new industry body – the Women in Financial Services Forum – in partnership with BNZ, to tackle gender equity in the industry.

The forum will facilitate a programme of events, policy work and other initiatives to hit the objective of greater female representation within senior positions in the broader financial services industry.

“We operate in a dynamic marketplace where a homogenous workforce just won’t cut it anymore, and frankly isn't good for business either," BNZ chief executive Andrew Thorburn said.

Finsia also unveiled research that it called "the first New Zealand snapshot on gender diversity dedicated to the finance industry".

Male respondents overwhelmingly agreed (63.9 percent) that the promotion of women into senior roles was a priority in their organisation, both in principle and practice, whereas women were more evenly divided with almost half agreeing and almost a third choosing to disagree.

While most respondents say their organisations place a priority on the promotion and advancement of women into senior roles, 69 percent of women are not convinced that their organisations are transparent about their remuneration systems and parity of pay between genders.

More than a third of women also perceived that they were treated differently to their male colleagues, both in the workplace and in associated social or other work-related activities. Consistent themes that emerged were that the workplace culture often disadvantaged women by demanding long and inflexible working hours and placed importance on sports (both watching and participating) and drinking that did not appeal to many women.

Finsia chief executive Russell Thomas said while this might seem like a trivial point, access to senior managers often took place in informal settings and unless women were present they risked missing out on opportunities their male colleagues took for granted.

“Interestingly, over one third of men said that the most beneficial strategy for increasing participation of women in financial services would be the implementation of flexible work options, 43.6 percent of women also agreed.”

And close to half of female respondents (47.8 percent) agree or strongly agree that the NZX should adopt a similar reporting regime to that enacted by the ASX, compared to 29 percent of male respondents.

The report collated the views of 272 New Zealand-based respondents to an online survey of over 950 male and female finance industry professionals in Australasia, primarily at the middle management or senior executive level.