Economic Growth

The world's biggest financial companies are failing at gender equality. Here's why

A businesswoman walks on the esplanade of La Defense, in the financial and business district in La Defense, west of Paris April 10, 2014.    REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes (FRANCE - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTR3KUFS

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. Image: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Lianna Brinded
Markets Editor, Business Insider
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Economic Growth?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Values is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


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."

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Economic GrowthEmerging TechnologiesEducation and Skills
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

What is needed for inclusive and sustainable global economic growth? Four leaders share their thoughts 

Liam Coleman

May 24, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum