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Financial services' 15-year gender diversity failure

Alison Steed

Alison Steed

Three quarters of those surveyed who were monitoring gender diversity in their business saw profit increases of between 5 per cent and 20 per cent, the majority seeing a 10-15 per cent increase.

Any company being offered a double-digit increase in their profits would most likely snap your arm off to get it, yet many refuse to accept it can be achieved with a better gender split.

Deborah France-Massin, director of the ILO Bureau for Employers’ Activities, said: “When you consider the efforts companies make in other areas to get just an extra 2 or 3 per cent in profits, the significance is clear. Companies should look at gender balance as a bottom line issue, not just a human resource issue.” Of course, she is right.

The unsurprising knock-on of this is that increasing female employment in companies has a positive impact on a country’s GDP, according to the ILO survey. This is no figure plucked out of the air either, it is based on data from 186 countries between 1991 and 2017.

So, you would think that moves to make companies more diverse should not need to be legislated for. It should be done automatically because, if for no other reason, it is likely to make the company more profitable.

However, even when it comes to wage parity, there is still a gender pay gap that has become entrenched and, despite the Equal Pay Act having been in force since 1975, we see little real progress.

Under the current legislation, every private company with 250 employees or more has to report each year on the pay differential between men and women.

This has been happening since April 2018, but as yet it is hard to see any palpable benefit as even the naming and shaming of companies who persist in paying women less does not seem to have prompted a significant change in approach.

If your company is looking for a reason to address the gender diversity in your business, few can surely be better than “it is likely to make your business more profitable”.

It is time to look at your company to see if you are doing everything you can and should to improve diversity, and, consequently, your bottom line.

Alison Steed is a freelance journalist