The inaugural Barron’s 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance list is a welcomed acknowledgement of achievement. Considering the obstacles that must be overcome by women in the industry, being on this list is all the more noteworthy. The changes occurring in finance have not happened by chance. In part, they can be contributed to a more concentrated effort by executives in the industry. This often involves diversity panels at conferences and more internal discussions concerning gender diversity issues.
Currently, 22% of corporate boards are comprised of women, which is double the amount from two decades ago. To say that this has been a field dominated by men would be an understatement. Fortunately, more leading firms are adding women to senior positions, including partnership. It’s worth noting that over the past five years, the can has been slowly kicked down the road according to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They reported a 1% increase in the number of women holding senior roles during this timeframe.
Some of the key roles in which women are holding outside of finance are in the areas of general counsel, money management and human resources. When you examine gender diversity in finance and other industries more closely, you’ll find that the progress in finance isn’t as great as it looks on the surface. That’s because only 10% of the highest-paid roles in finance are held by women. This number increases in private markets. A significant number of partnerships in venture capital firms have been women.
Unfortunately, only a small number a female-led startups attract money, which contributes significantly to the problem of under representation. The issues that women face are prevalent from the beginning and it’s something that presents a challenge that can be difficult to overcome. In fact, some women feel the need to change their personality to fit in when the environment is male-dominated.
Studies show the women are simply uncomfortable with self-promotion, which contributes to the problem. The issues that exist certainly aren’t because of performance since outcomes of mutual fund assets are similar whether managed by men or women. However, there is little recognition of this fact. Often assumptions are made that are detrimental to the advancement of female money managers.
While there has clearly been growth, there’s still a lot more progress required. Fortunately, the number of companies desiring to change is accelerating because there is greater recognition of how gender diversity is beneficial in finance.