‘Mediocre’ male managers block progress of women in finance

A new study suggests “mediocre” male managers are blocking women’s development in the finance world, with women saying men are better at office politics and many managers “faked empathy” on diversity.

 

Women in financial services in the City struggle if they do not perform consistently well, while mediocre men are surviving the industry in high numbers, according to a new study.

The study from LSE and Women in Banking and Finance (WIBF) found a number of reasons for this disparity, including social norms, retention bias and a difficulty among women, especially black women, to gain recognition on their performance at work. There is also a tendency for managers to fake empathy when managing women, says the study.

It states that women in financial services are in a sink-or-swim position, while men have many more opportunities to survive and that this strongly indicates that women are being held to higher standards. It says they are either ridiculed or celebrated and have less leeway to make mistakes than men. In addition, seemingly below-average men often survive because they play ‘good politics’ and bring this ethos into their management, acting as gatekeepers of opportunities for emerging talent, say the researchers. This means emerging women are less likely to receive opportunities under these leaders and often seeing their progression blocked.

To tackle this challenge, WIBF and LSE have created the GOOD FINANCE framework which takes into account qualitative research involving 79 women who participated in a recent study and attended roundtables, alongside the 1,703 respondents who responded to a survey conducted by The Wisdom Council.

Dr Grace Lordan, Director of The Inclusion Initiative at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said: “Having the opportunities of talented women guarded by managers that favour people ‘like them’ and play bad politics is detrimental for financial services in terms of innovation. The final gender convergence will only come when financial services have managers across all levels of seniority who embrace an inclusive leadership style that ensures the voices of all talent are heard because they are certain it is better for their own objectives. Until this point, we are stuck in a compliance phase where we need to continue monitoring and auditing the progress of women in the sector to ensure progress actually happens.”



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