Women are now less likely to be in the top 1% of UK financial and professional services jobs than they were before the pandemic

Women in the UK are four times less likely than men to be in the top 1% of earners in financial and professional services, according to analysis by the organisation. London School of Economics. And despite decades of efforts to close the gender gap in pay and career advancement, it has been growing slightly wider since before the pandemic.

In short

Women make up 19.4% of the top 1% of financial and professional services roles, down slightly from the three-year pre-Covid average of 19.7%.

However, while still not equal, the share of women in the top 10% of positions is higher, at 28.3%, and there are signs of progress, up 2.5 percentage points over the period. .

LSE’s analysis, based on the UK’s main survey of economic activity, the Quarterly Labor Force Survey (QLFS), from January 2017 to June 2023, also shows some rebalancing equal in terms of seniority. Women now make up 37% of senior managers and directors in the financial and professional services sectors, nearly the same percentage of full-time female employees.

Why hasn’t gender equality improved more?

The persistent gender seniority gap, which widens as you get closer to the pinnacle of your career, informs corporate efforts to close it—with all The benefits are clearly documented it provides access to more diverse talent and thinking—which is not enough.

The reasons behind it are complex, covering a considerable part Occupational punishment for mothers but not for fathers, bias—whether blatant or unconscious—and broader societal factors that disadvantage women’s careers, e.g. The average burden is higher Housework, responsibility for taking care of children and the elderly.

These factors have proven stubborn over the years, so in some ways the question is why? will Have they improved in the absence of major changes in attitude or behavior?

Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic may have hindered gender equality, due to layoffs disproportionately affected women, while businesses tend to cut back on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs when trading conditions are difficult. In America, this has become more complicated by one Conservative backlash against affirmative actionoften through legal means.

“We are going backwards but I’m not surprised. To make progress, there needs to be a broader shift towards recognizing that diversity is good for business. There also needs to be significant investment in upskilling managers to become inclusive leaders, recognizing that leading diverse teams is a skill. Without it, 10 years from now I would be making the same quote,” said Dr Grace Lordan, founding director of the Inclusion Initiative at LSE and associate professor in the Department of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences. school said.

Combined work may have been expected Support working mothersBut there is evidence to show it Remote workers are at a disadvantage in their careers compared to those coming into the office, while orders to return to the office have already begun push mothers out of the workplace.

What’s next?

The trend towards more equal gender representation in mid-level roles and among the top 10% of earners is encouraging, especially in relatively male-dominated fields such as finance. main and professional services.

It would be reasonable to expect knock-on effects for the highest paid and senior roles over the next decade, simply because more women with the requisite experience will be considered.

However, the trend persists that women’s promotion opportunities decrease with each level of seniority. Until that dynamic changes, the gap will remain significant.


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