A large proportion of ASX 200 companies are slow to change and there is little improvement. Australia’s financial services pay gap sits at 29.6 percent, the highest in the country. Likewise, of the ASX 200 companies, just 19 of the CEOs are women. Progress is glacial. There has been little change in the last couple of decades. The question is, what is preventing complete gender diversity in Australia and worldwide?
Here are three of the major hurdles women face.
1. Cultural Biases
Biases preventing gender diversity are a very common topic of discussion. These biases are cultural when someone is judged based upon assumptions about their culture, or about a specific trait they hold. With companies such as Google holding unconscious bias training, it is something which is being properly addressed by an increasing amount of companies.
Cultural biases can act as a hurdle not only to women, but to a variety of cultures trying to get into business, and trying to get that CEO position.
2. Workplace Biases
There are also biases that exist solely within the workplace. These lead to differences in how men and women are assessed at work. Women are often judged more severely for being more ‘aggressive’, where men would be seen as ‘taking initiative’. It is viewed as luck which put a woman in her position heading a company, or on a company board, rather than the hard work she put in.
3. Structural/Policy Issues
Beyond biases, there are also structures and policies in place which can prevent women from moving up the corporate ladder.
Workplace structures can provide an incentive for women to work someplace else and to avoid industries where it is much more difficult to get the managerial positions, such as in technology and financial services.
The organisations and businesses which are leading the way in gender diversity have policies in place about gender in the workplace. These policies support gender equality and assess how fairly everyone is being treated within the business’ walls. These are policies which are proactively addressing the issue, rather than simply having a gender diversity policy, without acting on it.
Organisations and businesses which don’t take the issue of gender diversity seriously are beginning to suffer the consequences. Organisations with women are proving more innovative and successful, and are outperforming those with male-only management teams.
In Australia, women are generally better educated, making up 46.4 percent of the workforce, with more women graduating High School and attaining undergraduate degrees.
Nonetheless, biases and policy issues are both still preventing some women from true success.
By discussing and becoming aware of gender biases, we can move beyond it and into culturally and gender diverse businesses. It is good for your business to get rid of these biases, and provide equal opportunity for both men and women. By starting the conversation and beginning to understand the positive roles both men and women can make in businesses, you can choose to collaborate, to the benefit of men, women and the business as a whole.
This is the fourth article in a series about women in fintech. To read more, check out Female Leaders in fintech and Financial Services, Women CEOs: There are more CEOs named David, Peter and John, and Why the pay gap in Financial Services needs to be addressed.