Number of women recruited in City rises

The City has sharply increased its recruitment of high-flying women and overseas staff over the last year, according to recruitment firm Astbury Marsden.

Astbury Marsden says the proportion of staff in the City who are female has increased by nearly a half in a year, rising from 20% of the City’s workforce in 2013 to 29% in 2014. 

It adds that 5% of the City’s workforce is now Chinese, up by almost a third from 3.8% last year, whilst 12% of the City’s current workforce is now Indian, up from 11% last year. That compares to just 0.7% of the wider population that are ethnically Chinese and 2.5% that are Indian.

Adam Jackson, Director at Astbury Marsden, says: “Financial services businesses see an enormous commercial benefit from recruiting the best and the brightest.”

“Clearly the composition of the City’s workforce is changing rapidly as it hires more and more of the output of the best international business schools and universities, and leaves its image as an old boy’s club further and further behind.”

Astbury Marsden says that the increased hiring of staff with Indian and Chinese backgrounds is partly due to the increasing importance of Chinese and Indian companies and the City’s determination to be a regional hub for those companies.

It adds that the surge in the number of women working in the City is evidence that the gender diversity programmes, put in place to attract and support female workers, are beginning to have an impact on the make-up of the City’s workforce.

For example, several investment banks have recruitment initiatives targeted at female undergraduate and graduate students, or ‘return to work’ schemes to attract women with previous City experience back to the industry after taking career breaks for family reasons.

However, Astbury Marsden says that some job areas are outperforming others in terms of attracting and retaining female workers.  ‘Back office’ functions such as fund services saw an increase in the proportion of female workers, with women accounting for 64% of the workforce this year. Ratings Agencies were the most balanced employers in terms of gender, with an equal proportion of male and female workers.

Similarly, the improvement in the proportion of women has been faster at less senior levels within the City.  Astbury Marsden notes that there has been a 15% increase in the proportion of female staff at analyst and associate level, with women now making up 40% of staff in these more junior roles.

There have been smaller increases in the percentage of women in the most senior roles, but the vast majority of positions at the level of Director and Managing Director continue to be occupied by men.  Astbury Marsden suggests that this may at least in part be due to a higher drop-out rate among women, as just 10% of female staff in the City are aged over 50, compared to 21% of male workers.

Adam Jackson says: “Over a quarter of City workers are now women. City firms are clearly doing better at attracting and retaining female talent, certainly in the earlier stages of their careers.”

“If this effort is maintained we should see it feed through into better female representation at the very top levels, and in traditionally male dominated but rewarding areas such as the trading desks.  The banks know they will benefit if they can draw from the widest possible pool of talent, which is why recruiting and supporting women is something they are prepared to invest in.”

Astbury Marsden’s research found that the City is now drawing more fully from the widest spectrum of talent, regardless of race, sex, religion or age:

– 69% of City workers are white compared to 86% of the UK’s overall population
– The percentage of Hindus employed in the City is 9% compared with 5% across London as a whole.
– The average age in the City has increased over the last year, with the average professional now aged 40. Astbury Marsden also notes that 39% of – City workers are aged between 30-39 years of age, a slight decrease on 2013’s figure of 44%

While nearly three quarters (74%) of City workers work more than a 40-hour week, this has decreased from 80% in 2012. The City’s long hours culture is said to be one of reasons why retention amongst women with children is relatively low

However, the research found that working hours keep lengthening as earnings grow. City workers with more than a 66-hour working week earned an average of £155,182 compared to approx £109,000 a year for those working 56-65 hours and £98,685 for those working 51-55 hours a week.

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