The results of the Credit Strategy gender equality survey are in, revealing the depths of gender inequality within the credit industry.
We at Credit Strategy firmly believe in the importance of conversation in improving gender equality in this industry. As part of this, we recently undertook a survey to discover the level of gender bias women in credit have experienced during their careers.
While progress has been made, the results still paint a troubling picture and make it clear that the credit industry still has a way to go in terms of preventing, and addressing, gender discrimination at work.
In a single comment at the end of the survey, one person said: “Women are not valued in my organisation.”
This opinion seems to reflect the wider results of the survey, as 86 percent of those surveyed think gender inequality exists in the workplace and, shockingly, more than half (54 percent) have personally experienced gender discrimination at work.
According to the survey, most gender harassment, inequality and discrimination is happening at junior management level. With 35 percent of gender inequality and discrimination and 40 percent of harassment taking place at junior management level. The gender imbalance in the credit industry is also a significant problem at board level. Some 79 percent of those surveyed said that there were not enough women on their executive boards.
“Society has different expectations of men and women, and this cultural indoctrination is very hard to resist.”
One respondent put this down to a simple “lack of recognition of the need of to have a diverse board with multiple perspectives.” However, multiple testimonies revealed a self-fulfilling prophecy. Respondents described executive boards being behind a “glass ceiling”, perceived as an “impenetrable boys’ club”. The cultural problem at the top means that women are resigning themselves to where they are. It was even expressed in the survey that some women “give up trying to reach board level”. Consequently, the much-needed diversity is never realised, creating an endless cycle of lack of representation. One respondent said that the treatment of women is “gruelling”. Something borne out in an overwhelming 86 percent of those surveyed believe that gender inequality and discrimination exist.
This is not the first time that Credit Strategy has heard of the experiences of women in the profession.
Previously, Mischon de Reya’s Teresa Callaghan wrote a piece for Credit Strategy’s 20/20 Credit Review. In this piece, she detailed experiences of gender discrimination she faced in her career. “In 1984 I was sent home by my then (female) manager for being inappropriately dressed for work – I was wearing trousers.” In the same piece, Callaghan questioned the progress the industry has made. “I wonder why we tolerated working practices and thinking that being overlooked was normal, but then, have we really progressed at all?”, she asked.
Repairing the balance
In efforts to correct the industry-wide imbalance, 73 percent of those surveyed said that their organisation has a diversity policy already in place. But are they effective? One respondent said: “There is a lot of work going into repairing the balance, but it’s not come into fruition as of yet.”
Laws to protect women’s rights in the workplace have been in place since the 20th century, but that has not translated into genuine diversity and representation in the workplace.
We also asked respondents if their organisation offers any diversity training, to help with overcoming unconscious bias. A substantial portion, 59 percent, of respondents answered no.
Flexible working helps improve gender balance in the workplace as it makes it easier for working mothers to balance childcare and work. When asked, 27 percent of those surveyed said their organisation did not have a flexible working policy. Around 14 percent said they didn’t know.
The credit industry is not alone in suffering from gender imbalances. Only 14 out of the 173 central banks across the world are headed by women. One testimony said: “Society has different expectations of men and women, and this cultural indoctrination is very hard to resist.”
The survey shows that deconstructing longstanding gender inequality that penetrates most facets of society takes time and potentially more than just a diversity policy at work. A conscious awareness of the need for multiple perspectives and experiences is vital in the progression and success of the credit industry. Part of this is engaging the profession, gauging the scale of the issue and monitoring its progress over time in order to hold the profession to account for its level of representation.
Women in Credit
This year, Credit Strategy has expanded the Women in Credit brand, which will now hold the first Women in Credit Forum, to be held at the 2020 Credit Summit. Women in Credit’s new forum is an important and exciting addition to the brand, as it will encourage more debate and conversation on the gender issues the industry faces.
The Women in Credit Awards will also be returning to Credit Week for a third year, this time hosted on March 19, 2020, by award-winning comedian, Suzi Ruffell.
Regarded as one of the best up-and-coming acts, she was nominated for the Best Breakthrough Act at The Chortle Awards. Ruffell has shared the stage with the likes of Alan Carr, Josh Widdicombe, Kevin Bridges and Romesh Ranganathan.
Set to sell out, there is very limited space remaining at the Women in Credit Awards 2020. Book now to avoid disappointment by visiting the Women in Credit Awards website.