Over the last two decades, the corporate finance/treasury sector has embraced greater gender diversity in the workplace. There are more women in finance than ever before with more of those women holding executive leadership positions. But to what extent has progress been made in closing the gender gap in finance? More importantly, what must be done to continue this mission?
Treasury Today Group, an independent publishing house targeting senior finance executives, recently completed its annual Women in Treasury Global Study. In its fifth year, this study is part of the group’s initiative to support, inspire and raise the profile of women in finance. This year’s respondents included 352 women from all over the globe with over half having been in a corporate treasury role for more than 10 years. Their responses highlight both progress and continued concern as women seek greater inclusion and equal opportunity in finance.
Findings that indicate progress include:
- The number of women in treasury is growing. 32% of respondents said 31 to 50% of their colleagues are women. Nearly 24% said 51 to 75% of their colleagues are women.
- Organizations are treating the issue of diversity more seriously and more favorably.7% of respondents said their organization has a diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity strategy. Approximately 58% characterize their company’s approach to diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity as favorable. Just over 23% characterize it as extremely favorable.
- Women are strong believers in mentoring – and are giving back. Over 80% said they have been mentored by someone inside or outside their organization. 71% think mentoring and/or sponsorship are key to a successful career.
However, despite signs of improvement, this study also demonstrates that gender diversity is still a major concern as it relates to the finance/treasury function:
- Not every company is taking diversity seriously. Nearly 20% characterize their company’s approach to diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity as extremely unfavorable or not very favorable.
- There is still a sizeable gap between the number of women in senior positions compared to the number of men – especially in finance. Less than half (41.3%) say their organization employs many women in senior positions. Just over 17% said their CFO is a woman.
- Corporate boards of directors are overwhelmingly not diverse. Only 20.3% say their board is diverse in terms of age, gender and ethnicity
- The pay gap is real. Only 26.3% of respondents say they believe they are paid the same as their male colleagues in the same position.
So, what needs to be done? Most importantly, companies need to keep “having the conversation” about gender diversity and inclusion. While progress has been made within many companies, there is still work to be done. The Financial Times recently surveyed some of the world’s biggest banks, insurers, asset managers and professional services firms on their progress towards achieving greater gender diversity. Just over half of responding organizations’ total staff are female, although that number drops precipitously when counting the number of women holding senior-level positions.
The implementation of diversity strategies that address inclusion, work/life balance and mentoring will be key to closing the gender gap in treasury and finance. That’s something we recognize here at PrimeRevenue, where we have seen an uptick in the number of women pursuing long-term career paths in treasury and finance. We maintain a strong commitment to improving diversity within our own business (including gender diversity!) and continue to prioritize this commitment as we grow.