Breaking Barriers: Empowering Women in Finance Roles 

September 25, 2023

Nearly three-quarters of women in finance entry-level roles say they don't envision themselves in top positions. Even when they do, they often lack the support to climb the corporate ladder. As a result, female representation continues to fall off in senior roles.

Correcting the gender gap in finance and accounting can put the industry on par with gender-diverse companies showing above-average profits and market growth. Keep reading for strategies to recruit, retain, and empower women in finance roles to rise to the top. 

Use Diverse Slate Hiring Strategies

If there’s only one woman in your candidate pool, her chances of being hired are low. Male-dominated candidate pools mirror the current finance working environment, so recruiters are more likely to hire people with similar group traits (known as similarity bias).

Starting with a diverse pool or "slate" of qualified candidates helps mitigate gender stereotypes and biases that hinder the progress of female finance professionals. This approach puts gender diversity at the earliest stages of the hiring process to bring in talented women with fresh perspectives that can drive innovation and growth. 

Eliminate Bias in Promotions

The biggest drop in the representation of women in finance happens early. Women are 24% less likely to get their first promotion than their male counterparts, even though they request promotions at similar rates.

Raising awareness about biases in reviews and promotions is the first step to levelling the playing field for careers in finance. This can be done through unconscious bias training to critically examine and mitigate biases in evaluations.

Establish clear evaluation criteria before the review process begins, like a rating scale instead of an open-ended assessment. This ensures that promotions are based on merit rather than subjective judgments.

Set a goal for increasing the percentage of women in senior executive and C-suite roles. Only 11% of companies in the financial industry firms set targets for gender representation in promotions, which is another factor limiting opportunities for women. 

Implement Gender Equity Policies

Gender equality policies and programs shouldn't be another box to check. Evaluate the impact of programs, assess employee benefits, and identify best practices that will create meaningful and sustainable progress toward gender diversity, equity, and inclusion of women. Here are some key policies and programs to consider.

Flexible Work: Remote or hybrid work models and flexible hours promote a work-life balance for female employees seeking career advancement opportunities while managing other commitments.

Equal Pay: Transparent salary structures should include policies for men and women in the same finance or accounting job to receive equal pay for equal work.

Employee Benefits: Paid leave for parents and caregivers, childcare support, and mental health services have played a key role in helping women remain in the workforce.

Mentorship Programs: These programs pair women with experienced female leaders who can provide guidance, advice, and opportunities for career in finance and accounting.

Equal Representation: Diverse candidate slates and sharing diversity metrics publicly hold organizations accountable for equal representation in entry-level and senior positions.

Offer Return-to-Work Programs

Returning to careers in finance after a break can be challenging, especially for women who typically take longer leaves as the primary caregiver. Restart programs can help bridge this gap with training and support to refresh skills and prepare women for a transition back into the workplace.

These programs often include workshops, seminars, and mentorship opportunities. Some programs are unpaid internships, but most companies offer some form of payment as an investment in placing women in finance roles after completing the program.

Tips for Recruiting Women in Finances Roles

Recruiting more women in finance roles starts with inclusive job descriptions. Actively seek diverse candidates and work with professional networks that support women in banking and finance, such as 100 Women in Finance.

Need help with hiring women in finance? Book a free consultation to get matched with part-time or project-based finance experts.  

Alyssa Huizenga
Director, Business Development
[email protected]

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