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Are Women Less Likely To Hold Senior Finance Positions Than Men?

Female finance professionals feel like they are much less likely to hold senior finance positions than their male counterparts; alarming new research from the spend optimisation platform Emburse confirms. 

According to the platform’s Modern Finance Careers study, which surveyed people accros various levels in finance, only 11 per cent of female respondents aspire to be CEOs, versus 26 per cent of males.

In terms of career ambition, 22 per cent of men want to achieve the rank of CFO at some point in their career, whereas only eight per cent of women share the same ambition.

The survey found that 37 per cent of women are not looking to advance in their careers, compared to 19 per cent of men.

Despite this, the study confirms that the opportunity does exist for managers to encourage women to advance their careers. According to the survey, 35 per cent of women in finance share that their managers have been the most influential in their careers, whereas 28 per cent of men are more influenced by mentors.

The survey also addressed matters of the so-called ‘Great Resignation’, including how often financial professionals are being recruited, how employees believe they can grow and the skills they see as critical for advancement.

The demand for financing talent

According to survey respondents, over one-third are recruited more than three times per month. When comparing genders, however, men are more aggressively recruited than women. Just eight per cent of women, compared with 16 per cent of men, received more than seven recruitment inquiries per month.

Internal opportunities are preferable for career advancement

Despite the demand for talent, 66 per cent of women and 63 per cent of men agreed that internal promotion was the best way to progress professionally, rather than changing companies every few years, with which 28 per cent of women and 34 per cent of men agreed.

But when the promotion opportunities don’t exist, finance pros are moving on. When asked why they left their last job, the dominant answer was similar for 25 per cent of men and 22 per cent of women: lack of growth opportunities.

Other reasons for leaving were:

  • Passed over for a promotion
  • Didn’t agree with the company’s direction
  • A personal reason

Valued skills for getting ahead

When looking at what skills financial professionals believe are the most valuable, it’s not surprising that analytical skills and accounting topped the list (see table below).

However, the story changes when looking at the responses by gender. Women were more likely to consider communication skills as valuable, while men favoured change management:

SkillsMen (%)Women (%)
Analytics3930
Accounting4439
Communication3148
Information Technology1310

Change Management

189
Adriana Carpenter, CFO of Emburse
Adriana Carpenter

“My peers are mostly male, but I’m positive that as more women succeed, they will inspire others to follow. It will take time to achieve gender parity across the finance team, however, it can be done,” said Adriana Carpenter, CFO of Emburse.

“It’s critical that female CFOs – especially at larger organisations – actively mentor and coach women to reach leadership opportunities. Even though the profession is quite gender-neutral overall, we need to redress the imbalance at the top levels of the profession, and I encourage my fellow female CFOs to inspire the next generation of leaders.”

Author

  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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