Finance Sector Still Some Distance From Gender Balance – OMFIF

Commercial banks slightly outperform central banks, public pension funds and sovereign funds.

Fewer than 1% of major financial institutions have achieved gender balance, according to a survey of diversity at the top levels of central banks, sovereign funds, public pension funds and commercial banks. Released to coincide with International Women’s Day, the Gender Balance Index 2021 found that just three out of 540 institutions have achieved a perfect 100 score, with 12 – or 2.2% – scoring 90 or more. The study is published by the Official Monetary and Financial Institution Forum.

The Gender Balance Index draws on a database of 9,000 individuals to identify the gender of decision-makers at financial institutions. Commercial banks were included for the first time in this year’s survey, achieving an average score of 29.9, which compares with 27.0 by central banks, 25.4 by public pension funds and 18.6% by sovereign wealth funds.

“By confronting people with the numbers, we hope to mobilise decision-makers towards improving results and measuring progress. The conclusions are clear: lack of diversity in the field is a structural, persistent problem. Progressive policies are needed to correct the historic underrepresentation of women and level the playing field,” said Danae Kyriakopoulou, Chief Economist and Director of Research at OMFIF.

Although only 18% of public pension fund CEOs are women, according to the survey, Australia’s Victorian Funds Management Corporation was one of the three institutions to score 100. The survey also highlighted “a stark contrast” across geographies, with European pension funds scoring 47 on average, while Asia Pacific funds’ average score was 19.

An accompanying anonymous survey of the diversity and inclusion practices of 50 institutions found that more firms had adopted practices considered supportive of women’s careers in response to the pandemic. This includes 92% of firms permitting remote working and 98% allowing flexible working, two-third of which said the pandemic had prompted a change of policy.

Last week, Citigroup’s Jane Fraser become the first woman to lead a major US bank. But the annual glass-ceiling index published by The Economist – which tracks the percentage of women in management, on boards, and in parliament – found that northern European countries took five of the six top rankings. The US was 18th, two places above the UK, although its performance was weighted by a lack of female representation in politics, rather than business.

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