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By Julia Bradshaw | Published Jun 20, 2012

Women in top posts still too low: report

The 20-page Women and Banking report from the Institute of Leadership and Management found there are still far fewer women in the top levels of financial organisations than there are men, despite significant pushes at government level to get more women into the boardroom.

The survey carried out by ILM among nearly 1000 City institutions, split roughly evenly between men and women, found 9 per cent of women in the sample occupied senior and executive roles, compared to 21 per cent of men.

A separate government survey found just 11 per cent of corporate managers and senior executives in banking are women.

Half of the women surveyed by ILM said there were barriers to progression in their organisations, while 36 per cent of men agreed.

Among the women, 72 per cent said attitudes of senior male managers was a barrier to progressing into senior roles. Others frequently cited the male management culture and the overall organisational culture, which penalises flexible working.

The report said: “Both men and women indicated that employees not seen at their desks were often sidelined or perceived by colleagues as less effective or simply ‘skiving’.

“There is a presenteeism culture in banking, which rewards attendance over output and presents a major barrier to implementing effective flexible working”.

The report also called for transparency in how performance is measured to encourage promotion on merit, rather than on “who you know” or “how often you’re in the office”.

The report said: “Banking is not viewed as a meritocracy where the best rise to the top. Clear criteria for ranking employees on output rather than hours, and performance excellence rather than connections, will benefit the business by rewarding and developing top talent.”

In March, Financial Adviser reported that the 30 Percent Club investor group had stepped up its commitment to get more women on the boards of UK companies. Chairmen who have joined the campaign include Sir Win Bischoff of Lloyds Banking Group, Robert Swannell of Marks & Spencer and Sir Philip Hampton of RBS.

Earlier this year, the UK’s Financial Reporting Council made changes to the UK Corporate Governance Code, reflecting its view that gender diversity strengthens board effectiveness, with the revisions coming into effect in October.

Philippa Gee, managing director and founder of Shropshire-based Philippa Gee Wealth Management, said: “Things are changing all the time in the workplace.

“More fathers are taking paternity leave, so trying to script the output of this is foolhardy. We need to see where the situation develops naturally.”

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