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FINANCIAL SERVICES | Tony Chua, Hong Kong
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Gender inequality in Greater China finance sector still rife

Yet 59% of the survey respondents believe the number of women in top management positions will increase in the next 5 years.

According to a new survey from eFinancialCareers, the leading global career site network for professionals working in the investment banking, asset management and securities industries, gender inequality still prevails in Greater China’s financial sector. Over half (53%) of surveyed finance professionals in Greater China agree there is a gender income gap in the financial services industry.

The eFinancialCareers Gender Diversity Survey 2011, was conducted in November 2011, among 1,355 finance professionals from Singapore, Hong Kong and China (Greater China), and Australia. The survey was conducted in partnership with The Women’s Foundation in Hong Kong, a not for profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls in Hong Kong.

Gender inequality in salaries, recruitment and promotion
According to the survey, the male-female income disparity appears more prevalent in higher-powered positions. When asked whether remuneration was equal for men and women in top managerial position, more than half (51%) of survey respondents didn’t agree. However, this drops to one in five (21%) when asked the same question about entry level positions.

Besides income, the survey highlights further inequalities in other areas:

  • Almost four in 10 surveyed finance professionals believe they have been discriminated against in the workplace or have been aware of others being discriminated against;
  • Over four in ten respondents (42%) believe being male makes it easier to succeed in the finance industry;
  • Over a third of respondents (34%) cited that they sensed a gender bias in the recruitment process.

“Gender discrimination is a universal and complex issue which is not confined to just one industry or one geographical location,”saidGeorge McFerran, Head of Asia Pacific for eFinancialCareers.

“Financial institutions should promote gender diversity programmes to tackle this issue. Over four in 10 surveyed finance professionals confirm their firm does not have an explicit gender diversity program.”.

“Although the issue is apparent at many levels of the finance industry in Greater China, finance professionals are positive about the prospects of gender diversity in the future. Nearly six in 10 respondents (59%) believe the number of women in top management positions will increase in the next 5 years, and over 40% predict that the gender gap in income will narrow,” he continues.

Ultimate differences between men and women
Nearly six in 10 of those surveyed (57%) believe that men are more likely to put themselves forward for promotional opportunities, which could be a reason why there are more men in top management positions.

The top two policies cited as beneficial in increasing the participation rates of women in financial services are implementation of childcare strategies and flexible work options. Yet the availability of childcare subsidy or reimbursement and onsite childcare remains low at 4% and 2% respectively. Less than 30% of companies offer flexible scheduling or let their staff work from home.

“Securing equitable representation of both genders at all levels in the workplace is important," commented Kay McArdle, Board Chair of The Women’s Foundation.

“These survey results illustrate that more support is needed from employers both to enable women to flex their schedules when they need to and to enable men to better share in parenting responsibilities. This survey also shows a lack of availability of employer provided quality childcare support. With continued collaboration and focus on company policies, awareness building, and government and legislative support we remain optimistic that gender diversity at all levels of the workplace can and will improve."

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