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Gender equality is coming slowly, say women in finance

Man and woman icons on a balance

Women who work in financial services believe their industry has a long way to go to achieve gender equality, according to results of the recent “Rise Up Gender Dynamics & Perceptions Survey” by Money20/20 and Visa.

Three-fourths of the 751 mid- to senior-level financial services professionals surveyed reported there are more men than women at senior levels (vice president and above) in their company. But while nearly 70 percent of men believe the number of women at senior levels will increase in the next two to three years, only 45 percent of women agree.

To increase the number of women in top roles, more must be done to diversify the talent pipeline, according to most women. The majority of men surveyed said not enough women are applying to the top leadership positions.

On the issue of pay, most men (69 percent) believe women and men are paid equally for the same job within their organization; only 28 percent of women agreed. While three-fourths of men said they feel comfortable raising salary concerns, just 62 percent of women felt the same.

While half of all respondents said they are aware of diversity and inclusion initiatives within their organizations, 36 percent of women said they do not feel promoting and advancing women is a priority for their employer.

The motherhood penalty

Women feel motherhood and caring for family hurt their careers. Only six in 10 women said they feel confident they will be welcomed back following maternity leave and 88 percent said women's career trajectories are more negatively impacted by family obligations than those of their male colleagues.

When asked what it will take to change the status quo, both men and women felt strongly that men should play a role in promoting gender equality in the workplace. Men are significantly more comfortable than women in raising concerns related to gender inequality, with many women not wanting to be labeled as complainers or potentially face negative consequences, the survey found.

Men and women agree on a few changes that would be most impactful in improving gender equality at work: increasing awareness and setting goals, addressing the gender pay gap, setting quotas to ensure equal leadership teams and boards and providing mentoring programs to guide women into senior roles.