The world's largest banks, insurers, asset managers, and professional services firms have made some headway in getting more women into finance but are still failing to promote women, according to exclusive data from The Financial Times.

And there was one key statistic that demonstrated how the playing field for women is still unequal:

"Women made up 25.5 per cent of senior roles in 2016, compared with 23.7 per cent in 2014."

While the FT survey showed that half of the overall workforce were female, with 58% being female at junior level, around 75% of men dominate senior roles at the firms and year-on-year the percentage of women in mid-level jobs stayed flat at just over 39%.

In other words, financial firms have got more women into the workplace but they are less likely to progress beyond junior level. If you are a woman at an Asia-based bank, you are even more less likely to be promoted — just 6.9% of their senior positions were represented by women.

Ann Francke, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute said, in a statement responding to the FT report, that management roles are a key area for growth in the UK economy.

"The UK economy needs two million new management roles for it to achieve predicted growth. The problem for many organisations is the 'missing middle.' While women out-number men at junior levels, not enough make it through middle management and to the top," said Francke.

Image: World Economic Forum

"To achieve a 50/50 split of management jobs between men and women by 2024, we will need 1.5 million new female managers over the period. Today there are over half a million 'missing' women from management. On today’s diversity forecasts, we’ll still have 480,000 ‘missing women’ from UK management in 2024."

In the report, some representatives at the financial institutions recognised that there is a problem and Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, EMEA president of Bank of America Merrill Lynch even said that staff will be possibly punished if they do " not support the corporate agenda of achieving a level playing field for women in pay and promotions."

"Certainly if someone does something negatively or behaves in a way which is inconsistent with our goals, clearly they will be reprimanded," said Wilmot-Sitwell.

"Punishment can come in different forms but the easiest way is paying them less."