PwC: Young females don’t think they can reach the top in financial services

The research found that one in five of this generation of women wouldn’t work in financial services solely due to the sector’s image.

A perceived lack of career progression is causing many females to leave their jobs in financial services or putting them off joining the sector in the first place, according to a new PwC report.

PwC’s report, Female millennials in financial services: strategies for a new era of talent, reveals that limited opportunities for career progression is the number one reason female millennials (born between 1980 and 1995) leave their job in financial services.

The outlook for those still working in the sector doesn’t fare much better as two thirds of women working in financial services believe they won’t be able to reach a senior level within their organisation. This compares to just three in 10 male millennials working in the same industry.

The report, which draws on interviews with more than 8,000 female millennials globally, reveals that the financial services industry faces a number of hurdles in attracting and retaining this generation of women. Female millennials are entering the workplace in larger numbers than ever before and come with their own set of expectations and ambitions for their careers.

The research found that one in five of this generation of women wouldn’t work in financial services solely due to the sector’s image. Insurance is the least popular sector, while asset management fares better due to the higher number of positive senior female role models. Women are also more positive about the coaching they receive in this sector.

An employer’s policy on diversity and equality is also high on female millennials’ list when considering whether to work for an organisation, however, many financial services firms appear to be falling short. Six in ten female millennials said financial services firms are not doing enough to encourage diversity and seven in ten said their employer talks about diversity, but opportunities are not equal for all.

Jon Terry, PwC’s financial services HR consulting leader, said: “At a time when financial services firms are finding it difficult to root out aspects of their culture which could lead to excessive risk-taking or regulatory breaches, attracting more women at all levels of the organisation could provide the catalyst needed for a real shift in attitudes and behaviours.

“It is clear that financial services firms have a way to go to attract and keep hold of this new era of female talent. These women are ambitious and looking to progress and if these expectations aren’t met women will simply be put off joining or will vote with their feet and leave. Within this highly networked generation, poor perceptions of current staff can quickly spread and discourage potential recruits.

“This should be a wake-up call for those in the financial services sector to bring their diversity policies to life, redefine their definition of what makes a leader, re-evaluate how they develop their people and create a structure where women can thrive and not be stifled. Having visible female role models at all levels of an organisation will be an important step to show employees and potential employees that leadership positions are achievable for all.”


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