Gender diversity: ‘The pace of change is too slow’

Gender diversity: ‘The pace of change is too slow’

Gender diversity: ‘The pace of change is too slow’ While Canada is one of the better countries to be a professional woman in the financial services industry, a lot of work remains to be done.

Consulting firm Oliver Wyman brought out its inaugural Women in Financial Services report Friday. The 50-page document covers 150 major corporations in 19 countries examining the successes and failures of the industry when it comes to gender diversity.

The report had several interesting findings about Canada specifically. The most positive being that women occupy 23% of the executive committee positions available, third-highest in the survey behind only Sweden and Norway at 29% and 35% respectively.

In another positive spin it noted, “With Monique Leroux at Desjardin there is already one female CEO of a major Canadian financial institution, and with the strong pipeline of female candidates in senior ‘CEO pipeline’ position, it is likely this will increase with time.”

As a country, however, Canada doesn’t fair too well when it comes to gender equality. The World Economic Forum’s 2014 Gender Gap Report ranks Canada 19th, one place ahead of the U.S., but well behind all of the Scandinavian countries as well less obvious countries such as Rwanda and Nicaragua.

So, although women working in Canada’s financial services industry fare much better than those in many other industries, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

One of the biggest problems within the financial services industry, the report finds, are the differences between men and women when it comes to their perceptions of the opportunities available to them. According to Oliver Wyman, 52% of men believe that men and women have the same opportunities to be promoted in the same timeframe but only 41% of women feel the same. Worse still, the survey found that only 30% of men feel gender balance in senior management should be a top priority.

Oliver Wyman partner Michelle Daisley said this about gender diversity: “Diversity improves decision-making, performance, sustainability, service and profits in the long-run. Firms with less diverse management teams are less able to see issues from many angles. This is especially important for a sector that has recently suffered scandals attributed to unchallenged leadership and ‘groupthink’. The pace of change is too slow.”

With women representing just 4% of CEOs, 13% of executive committee members, and 20% of directors, it’s hard to imagine things will change much without a major shift in thinking by men in senior executive roles.

WP reached out to Sybil Verch, Raymond James’ Senior VP and Regional Manager for Western Canada, for her take on this very important issue.

Calling it a “great report,” the industry veteran reiterated her firm’s commitment to developing more female advisors from coast-to-coast. Looking to boost the percentage of women advisors at Raymond James from 15% today to 25% by 2025, Verch said this about women working in financial services, “I am dedicated to increasing the number of women advisors and women in leadership roles [across the industry].”

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