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How gender stereotypes are hurting the financial advice industry

Is the way you think about gender hurting your business' innovation? According to a study from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), improving balance across all industries will help our economy in the years to come.

"It's time to reject the idea that certain types of work are better suited to women or men"

"It's time to reject the idea that certain types of work are better suited to women or men. A person's gender is not an indicator of their ability or interest in a particular area," said Libby Lyons, WGEA Director in an August 16 announcement.

This concept of women’s work and men’s work is something that extends into the financial advice sector - how can it be best addressed?

Gender diversity in the financial services sector

The WGEA has found that in 2015, 51.1 per cent of employees in the financial services and insurance industries were women, placing them fifth in the country for prevalence of women. However, this industry has also seen the steepest decline in female participants - down 7.1 per cent since 1995.

However, the research shows a more telling gender split in terms of the roles people play in an organisation. Women make up 74.3 per cent of clerical and administrative workers, but only 37.1 per cent of managers. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers research, in financial services globally women hold only 19 per cent of senior level jobs, 14 per cent of board seats and a mere 2 per cent of CEO roles. In Australia, the imbalance can be even greater.

This plays into age-old stereotypes of women working in secretarial roles while men assume leadership positions - something every industry in Australia needs to work on. So what are the pathways to advance more women into higher roles in financial advice and planning businesses?

Moving more women into finance

The PwC research shows that in every aspect of financial services, there are roadblocks to career advancement for women. However, it offers many solutions for building a strong network of female employees, breaking down the stereotypical roles that people assume in financial services. This includes:

High-touch onboarding, and identifying women in your organisation that can carry business upwards

Design career pathways based around female employees' competencies and assessments, rather than a rigid one-size-fits all scheme that may carry inherent bias

Constantly evolve leadership programs around your staff

Align female candidates with mentors for stronger growth

PwC notes that 43 per cent of CEOs in financial services don't have a program for boosting diversity. By looking at your company structure, identifying male-centric processes and finding ways to involve women in these, you can be on the way to gender equality right across your organisation.

At Yellow Brick Road, we're promoting women in finance. Get in touch to find out what we can do for you.

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