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Research: Gender diversity in the banking industry

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An international analysis of the SKEMA Observatory for the Feminisation of Businesses reveals striking differences between countries.

Michel Ferrary is a SKEMA professor and expert on issues related to corporate diversity. Every year since 2008, he has published the work of the SKEMA Observatory on the Feminisation of Companies that measures the ability of CAC 40 companies to feminise their governing bodies.

The SKEMA Observatory for the Feminisation of Companies is presenting the results of an unprecedented international study that measures gender diversity in the banking sector. 

The study analysed their performance by identifying four hierarchical levels for each of them related to women's presence in four bodies: the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, management and staff. 

This new study by the SKEMA Observatory on the Feminisation of Companies shows that:
  1. The banking industry achieves gender balance in the workforce: women make up on average 52% of the workforce (maximum of 61% in Canada and a minimum of 35% in Japan). The most feminised bank is Swedbank with 65% of its staff being women. The least feminised is the Mitsubishi UFJ in Japan with 22% of women in its workforce. 

  2. There is a double glass ceiling in banks: the higher up the hierarchy, the lower the presence of women. They represent 52% of the workforce and only 38% of management (first glass ceiling). The presence of women falls to 16.5% in Executive Committees (second glass ceiling).

  3. With 24% women, Boards of Directors are more feminised than Executive Committees (16.5%). This results from the policy of quotas for women on Boards of Directors imposed by public authorities in certain countries and because of pressure from shareholders with regards diversity issues.

  4. There is a good deal of variation in the feminisation of bank management around the world. Sweden (45%), France (35%) and Canada (34.5%) are the three countries in which women's presence on the Boards of Directors of banks is the highest. Conversely, Japan (12%), China (14%) and Singapore (15%) are the countries in which women's presence on Executive Committees is the lowest.
Michel Ferrary also observes that by crossing the percentage of women in the Board of Directors with those in the Executive Committee, the data obtained make it possible to establish four other categories:
  • Egalitarians: where the percentage of women in the two management bodies is higher than the average.

  • Constrained feminists: the percentage of women on the Board of Directors is higher than the average because of quotas imposed by the country, but the percentage of women on the Executive Committee is lower than the average.

  • Irreducible machos: the percentage of women in the two management bodies is below average

  • Potentially egalitarians: The percentage of women on the Board of Directors is below average but the percentage of women on the Executive Committee is above average.
When Michel Ferrary crosses the percentage of women in Executive Committees with the percentage in management, the results bring out four new populations of banks:
  • Feminine: these banks use their highly feminised population in management as a breeding ground to promote an above-average percentage of women on their Executive Committee. 

  • Masculine: the low percentage of women on Executive Committees reflects the low percentage of women in management, which is a smaller pool for promotion. 

  • Macho: these banks do not use their highly feminised population in management to promote women to the Executive Committee. The percentage of women on the Executive Committee is much lower. 

  • Amazonian: the percentage of women on the Executive Committee is higher than average while the percentage of women in management is lower than average.


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