FINSIA BUSTS COMMON MYTHS ABOUT WOMEN AND WORK
The Financial Services Institute of Australasia (Finsia), Australia's peak financial services association and leading provider of policy insights into the finance sector, today launched a policy exposition paper which debunks the most common myths with regard to the lack of women holding leadership roles in financial services.
The Finsia paper titled Seven myths about women and work explores a range of pervasive misconceptions and assumptions which have played a significant role in justifying and perpetuating the scarcity of women in senior business roles in Australia, while presenting research data to debunk these myths.
"Given Australian businesses have exhausted a long list of excuses as justification for the significant under-representation of women in leadership, Finsia is calling for an examination of the social and cultural issues which are draining our talent pool," said Finsia CEO, Dr Martin Fahy.
Dr Fahy pointed out that while a number of industry bodies have launched mentoring programs, forums and research into this issue, some significant barriers remain that will not be addressed by such initiatives. Dr Fahy said these consist of the informal beliefs and attitudes towards women in the workplace which are also linked to Australian social and cultural expectations.
"We felt that in order to address these complex and often unconscious barriers it is necessary to acknowledge, define and analyse the most potent beliefs and challenge their legitimacy," Dr Fahy said.
According to Finsia, the seven most common myths regarding the lack of women holding leadership roles in financial services include:
* there are not enough women
* careers are disrupted through child bearing/caring responsibilities
* women lack ambition
* legislated quotas or targets for women on boards and executive teams are unnecessary
* women can't negotiate
* workplaces are meritocracies; and
* the gender pay gap is exaggerated.
"We know that there is certainly no shortage of well educated and experienced women in Australia, yet assumptions about the level of commitment that women will bring to their job and concern they will 'opt out' means they are less likely to be chosen for training and development opportunities, even early in their career. At the same time, women are often deemed to be unsuitable for leadership roles because their careers fail to match the traditional templates or idea of success based on male breadwinner norms," Dr Fahy said.
Finsia's suggested strategies for addressing the gender divide within the workplace from a cultural perspective include:
* creating a level playing field across all industries and job levels through greater public expenditure on childcare to maximise access, flexibility and choice
* Implementing company level incentives to positively encourage a greater uptake of paternity leave by men and to breakdown the residual prejudices regarding men in caring roles
* Conducting focused research to actively investigate cultural beliefs and behaviours within individual work-units/departments and establish internal targets to overcome the gender biases of certain roles. For example: the continued dominance of men in capital markets trading roles as compared to say, human resources and marketing roles
* Broaden and strengthen internal support structures for employees transitioning back into the workplace beyond the traditional HR approach. For example: monitor the percentage of staff who access maternity/paternity leave, as well as the percentage of staff promoted before, during or after taking maternity/paternity leave.
"Failing to increase the level of female participation within financial services will have a significant impact on the future of our industry and the broader economy. What's required is a radical change in norms and behaviours within our workplaces, to close the gap between policy, practice and attitudes," Dr Fahy concluded.
Finsia commissioned author Catherine Fox to write Seven myths about women and work, which will be officially launched today at the Finsia Financial Services Conference 2010.
Finsia the Financial Services Institute of Australasia has a combined wealth of experience in the financial services industry dating back to 1886.
Finsia is connected to a deep, rich history that can be traced back to the establishment of the Australasian Institute of Banking and Finance (AIBF) in 1886 and later the Securities Institute of Australia (SIA) in
1966. The merger of these two leading industry bodies in 2005 signalled a new era for the financial services: one industry represented by a single professional association.
As the only professional association representing the entire spectrum of financial services throughout Australia and New Zealand, its reach extends to more than 16,000 individual professionals working across the broad categories of banking, wealth management and capital markets.
Finsia plays a vital role in protecting the industry's strength and competitiveness in today's evolving global marketplace through its core purpose of helping members succeed in their careers and supporting the growth and development of the financial services industry.
This is achieved through the provision of relevant and high quality professional development programs, a comprehensive suite of career support services and an extensive range of industry-leading information resources and publications. Finsia's leadership, research and policy-setting initiatives also play a critical role in promoting industry growth both regionally and around the world.
FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES OR TO REQUEST A COPY OF THE PAPER CONTACT:
Manager - Policy and Public Affairs
Finsia Financial Services Institute of Australasia
t: 61 2 9275 7923
m: 0419 179 995