In recent years, the debate about gender balance has had a major influence on many of our Clients’ recruitment policies and strategies. The discussion often highlights the lack of females in senior roles, especially within the Financial Services sector and areas traditionally considered male-orientated, such as Data and Analytics.
To address this situation, many reports and publications, such as HM Treasury’s ‘Women In Finance Charter’, have made recommendations on improvements to recruitment and internal promotion policies. However, recent reports have identified that further improvement is needed. For instance, the FCA’s research on senior roles in FS, published in October 2019, states: “Despite bold targets and high-profile initiatives, there have been only pockets of progress; senior levels of finance [professionals] are nearly as male today as they were 15 years ago.”
Pay discrepancy is also often in the news. Findings by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the recent 'Gender Pay Gap in the UK' report reveals that “the gender pay gap among full-time employees stands at 8.9%, little changed from 2018, and a decline of only 0.6 percentage points since 2012.”
While these findings are depressing reading for those championing gender equality in the workplace, it’s not all doom and gloom. The same report from the ONS finds that there has in fact been an improvement for younger employees: “For age groups under 40 years, the gender pay gap for full-time employees is now close to zero.”
These positive findings from the ONS mean women at the start of their career will generally experience less pay discrimination than older generations, and it's at this level where MERJE is seeing an increase in female applicants. Our Credit Risk and Analytics team have seen an increase in the volume of women applying for graduate-level positions in both our Credit and Data Science areas.
Eleanore Sykes, Managing Consultant for the MERJE Credit Risk & Analytics team, says, “Our team recruits Candidates at many levels, from graduate placements to Chief Credit Officer or Head of Analytics, and for some of our more senior Candidates we still see a gender imbalance and a disparity in pay. Promisingly, there seems to be a more equal gender balance with less senior Candidates. I suspect that this is a time lag on the impact of the initiatives and strategies put in place and in the future things will continue to improve at all levels.”
So, why are we seeing the increase specifically in Credit Risk and Analytics?
An important factor is that female professionals in these areas have increasing access to support and recognition from industry bodies, events and publications. An example of this is the Women In Credit Awards, which were launched in 2018 by Credit Strategy to promote the hard work by women in the Credit sector.
Jenna Abbott, Operations Director at Shard Financial Media (publisher of Credit Strategy and host of the Women In Credit Awards), explains that “issues such as board representation, diversity policies, gender pay and returning to work remain important for the industry as a whole. The Women in Credit Awards are a pivotal part of the ‘Women in Credit’ brand and will continue to grow to highlight women’s achievements. We support efforts from organisations like MERJE to recruit more women graduates into Credit roles.”
Liz Thompson, winner of ‘Team Leader of the Year’ at the Credit Awards 2019 and Head of Compliance at the Lending Standards Board, said of the awards: “As the judging panel was all women, it was great to be acknowledged by my female peers in the industry. Women celebrating women in our industry is a good thing. I have been in this industry for 18 years and the gender balance situation still has some way to go, but public recognition such as these awards is a step in the right direction. If this helps to push women through from junior roles, this can only be a good thing for the industry.”
Similarly, support in Analytics and Data Science is provided by organisations such as Women In Data UK, an event and network that provides “a platform for female and gender diverse data professionals to share their technical knowledge and experiences, and to encourage more diverse representation in the industry.”
This support is ensuring that the achievements of females are being publically acknowledged and that gender balance is staying in the spotlight – creating a community of female professionals and inspiring the next generation of women in Credit and Data Science.
We are hopeful that the increasing numbers of female graduates applying for Credit and Data positions will translate to a better gender balance at senior levels as those women progress to management roles. Whilst the current statistics on gender representation may generate negative headlines about how slow progress has been, we believe that the number of women within Credit and Analytics roles, and their salaries, will continue to increase in the years to come.
If you want to discuss your Credit Risk & Analytics recruitment needs or career options, please contact Eleanore Sykes on 0161 883 2750 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. MERJE's Diversity & Inclusion Policy can be found here.