Financial Services Industry Lagging in Unleashing Female Leadership Potential

  • Second global Women in Financial Services report finds slow
    progress for women leaders in financial services
  • At current progress, female representation at executive
    committee level set to hit 30 percent in 2048
  • Female executives more likely to leave their employer at
    mid-career in financial services than any other industry

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Globally, only one-fifth of boards and 16 percent of executive
committees in financial services are comprised of women, according to
the Women in Financial Services report by global management
consultancy Oliver
. This is only a slight improvement in both categories since
the report was last published in 2014.

Oliver Wyman notes that at current progress, it will take more than 30
years (until 2048) for executive committees in the financial services
industry globally to reach 30 percent female representation (the level
at which research suggests a minority’s voice comes to be heard).
Currently, women have the highest representation on executive committees
in Norway and Sweden, with Japan and South Korea needing the greatest

The report includes an analysis of 381 financial services organizations
in 32 countries, a survey of 850 financial services professionals around
the world and interviews of more than 100 senior female and male leaders.

“The industry is far from where it should be on gender balance. We hope
that this second report will advance the discussion further – delving
deeper into it, raising awareness and supporting much needed change in
the industry,” said Ted Moynihan, Managing Partner of Financial Services
at Oliver Wyman. “The low representation of women on executive
committees in particular is a problem. An organization’s key business
and strategic decisions are made by its executive committee and they are
also highly visible, both internally and externally, making them
effective as role models and sponsors – and essential for driving
business success.”

Of additional concern, female executives in financial services are
nearly 30 percent more likely to leave their employer than are their
peers in other industries. The data and responses suggest that many
women face a mid-career conflict and a less attractive ‘career
trade-off’ than men – with insufficient flexible working hours and
support for family responsibilities, persistent views of shortcomings
regarding promotion and equal pay, and unconscious bias.

“Diversity must be seen as a commercial imperative rather than just as
part of corporate social responsibility or fairness in the workplace,”
said Astrid Jaekel, Oliver Wyman Partner and report author. “Gender
balance provides access to the full talent pool, better decision making
by bringing together different perspectives, improved services to
customers by better representing them, and a stronger economy.
Organisations need to advance women by offering bolder structural
solutions to the mid-career conflict outlined in this report, creating
the right working arrangements and fostering more profound cultural

The report also includes a series of shorter articles on:

  • Areas of particular concern (Germany and Switzerland, asset management
    and risk functions).
  • Success stories with more women in leadership positions (the public
  • Areas where a new dynamic may be emerging (China’s Fintech sector and
    millennial women in the US).
  • Specific aspects of diversity (pay equity, leadership styles).
  • How the industry can move forward (a call for action by 30% Club).
  • Financial inclusion of women (based on a roundtable discussion
    conducted in collaboration with Women’s World Banking).

About Oliver Wyman

Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting. With offices
in 50+ cities across 26 countries, Oliver Wyman combines deep industry
knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk
management, and organization transformation. The firm’s 3,700
professionals help clients optimize their business, improve their
operations and risk profile, and accelerate their organizational
performance to seize the most attractive opportunities. Oliver Wyman is
a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC]. For
more information, visit Follow
Oliver Wyman on Twitter @OliverWyman.


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