Around 40 per cent of women working in financial services experienced gender-based barriers in the workplace, according to wealth and asset management specialist, Simplify Consulting.
In a research paper, entitled ‘Change Starts With Bravery’, the wealth manager examined the gender gap in the sector and said ,ore needs to be done to understand unconscious gender-related biases.
It called on employers to update their language and behaviours to demonstrate gender neutrality.
The research, which looked at three areas - education, life events and how to close the gap - interviewed 11 C-suite level women working in wealth and asset management and surveyed a further 100 female wealth professionals.
It also included interviews with 30 female secondary school students and surveyed over 100 others to determine their career aspirations and knowledge of career options in financial services.
Of the women surveyed, half said they experienced progression barriers at work linked to life events such as starting a family, care-giving for loved ones or menopause.
Several respondents noted that they have seen men continue to recruit male friends or colleagues who exuded a similar image to their own/
Simplify Consulting highlighted that this can prevent diversity of thought in senior leadership teams, which could discourage female employees from applying for future positions.
Separately, one in four women surveyed said that maternity leave specifically impeded career progression.
Some 24 per cent of older female workers said they balanced work with caring responsibilities, compared with just over one in eight (13 per cent) of male workers.
Simplify Consulting’s co-founder, Kate Monserrate said: “In the workplace, women are still being overlooked for simply wanting to have a family or going through unavoidable life-changing events like the menopause. The financial services industry is, in the main, inflexible in the face of these events. Something’s got to give and all too often it’s the career aspirations of women.”
The firm also called on employers to put in place equal flexible working policies for all employees, including being able to work from home in order to help employees achieve a balance that allows them to manage family or caring commitments around their employment.
It also encouraged senior managers to lead by example by taking maternity or paternity leave, adapting hours to care for older relatives and children to show that the written policy is accepted and “worth the paper it is written on".
We need to talk about menopause
Looking specifically at the impact menopause can have on a woman’s career, Simplify Consulting said that a “cultural shift” is needed in the workplace and that menopause needs to be openly discussed and normalised.
The research revealed that one in ten women leave the workforce due to menopause, while 80 per cent of women experience symptoms related to menopause.
Simplify Consulting encouraged businesses to enact a menopause policy and said there needs to be “open communication for all employees of all levels to ensure that leaving employment is not the only option available".