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Gender equality perception differs

The lived experience of men and women in financial services vastly differs as the gap is widening between organisations saying they are working to promote gender equality and those putting it into practice, new research shows.

FINSIA's sixth biennial Gender Divide Survey has revealed the gap in perception versus reality of where the industry currently finds itself.

More respondents than previous iterations of the survey had diversity and inclusion key performance indicators, and more than half agreed that the promotion and advancement is part of the organisation's priorities. However, women are less likely than men to agree that their organisation is putting this into practice.

The gap between an organisation saying it will promote and advance women and actually doing it has widened a further 3.5% to 23%.

"For these women the gap between "saying" and "doing" has widened, which is very concerning. This 'lived' experience is the crux of the issue - 'in principle' is a far cry from 'in practice' and it is what makes all the difference," the report said.

On the issue of pay transparency, 58% of men believe organisations are transparent compared to 18% of women. Further to this, 77% of male respondents were neutral, agreed or strongly agreed that the pay gap was grossly exaggerated, compared to 40% of women.

"The strong differences between male and female perceptions may be indicative of gender bias and may be the reason why improvement in gender equality is so slow. The report is a wake-up call to all those in the industry to become aware of the operation of unconscious bias and put in place processes to counter it," FINSIA chief executive Chris Whitehead said.

"There is a persistent division between men and women's perception about the extent of the gender pay gap."

More than half the female respondents and over a third of male respondents said they had occasionally experienced, or known someone to experience, harassment and/or sexism in the workplace.

Of the female respondents, 60% of them were under 25 years old.

"Harassment, sexism, gender inequality and unconscious bias are all inconsistent with the professionalism advocated by FINSIA," Whitehead said.

"We will be convening a panel of senior financial services leaders in October to discuss the report and its implications."

Read more: FINSIAChris Whitehead