Role models key to gender equality in finance sector

talking it through: young women shadowed senior business leaders

WITH great power comes great responsibility, and for the women who hold major positions of influence across the Square Mile and beyond, that old adage carries even greater significance.

Fresh research published in the build up to International Women’s Day on 8 March has revealed that seeing women working in corporate roles can encourage youngsters to follow in their footsteps, with four in 10 (38%) more likely to consider a career in the City because of the accomplishments of the female workforce already in place.

The figure was released by Girlguiding to mark the inaugural ‘She Can Be…’ event led by The Lord Mayors’ Appeal.

And with the gender pay gap and the Suffragette movement hot on the lips of most women in the City, more than 130 teens were invited to shadow Square Mile chief executives earlier this month.

Participants took part in networking sessions and undertook simulated tasks showcasing the day-to-day life of women working in the City. Twenty-five organisations including sponsors Capgemini and XL Catlin, as well as BNY Mellon, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Innovate Finance, the Post Office, and Virgin Money opened their doors to youngsters.

Research data – which also draws comparisons between men and women’s motivation to work – was  made public at Mansion House by Laura McClinton, a 16-year-old Girlguiding advocate, in the presence of top City bosses and stakeholders.

Laura said: “I think events like ‘She Can Be…’ are extremely important in empowering young women to consider careers in major industries. And it’s great for the companies too – they are able to find out how to encourage women to consider working with them.

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The Lord Mayor’s Appeal’s She Can Be… event at Mansion House.

“I think that the most exciting part of the day is the chance to actually visit the companies, giving girls a chance to tackle the stigma regarding these occupations being ‘more for men’.

“Girlguiding shows their members of all ages that they can pursue whichever career they wish, from the parts of its programme dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math, to encouraging girls and young women into positions of leadership.”

Dame Fiona Woolf DBE, representing the Lord Mayor Charles Bowman, welcomed attendees to the ceremony. Dame Fiona was only the second female Lord Mayor in history, and explained that appointments such as hers are a contributing factor in breaking down gender-related barriers in the workplace.

“We know that it is not always perceived to be equal for women and men in the City, or in society, however I know, and I can see, that change is happening – the City is doing more to address this priority.

“We need to break the glass ceiling and I believe that this generation of young women soon to be joining the workforce will be able to do that.

“I am thrilled that The Lord Mayor’s Appeal is driving this agenda to create ‘A Better City for All’ and ‘She Can Be…’ is such a positive event that will help make this change happen.”

Data shows that young women are less motivated by salary than their male peers, with 65% saying it is a contributing factor for their future career compared to 75% of men. More young women also say that being passionate about their job is important to them, with 73% of women stating so compared to just over half (52%) of men surveyed.

However, both young men and women value flexible working, including shared parental leave, almost equally, with 45% of men valuing it as important compared to 46% of women.