Gender equality continues to be a hugely important topic; not only in financial services but in all sectors. Despite work being done in recent years, a gender imbalance still remains; particularly for women in senior roles. A new study by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) finds that many issues still remain for women experiencing the menopausal transition.
Almost a quarter (22 per cent) of people working in financial services surveyed said there are currently no measures in their workplace to support women senior leaders going through the menopause.
Professional membership body and registered charity CISI undertook the survey of 332 respondents. Participants from across the world including the UK, Europe, Asia and Africa were included. Respondents reflected sectors of financial services including wealth management, operations, compliance, financial planning, capital markets, asset management, corporate finance, risk and Islamic finance.
CISI also asked if “women going through the menopause” lacked support in respondents’ firms.
Forty-four per cent felt that lack of workplace support for women going through the menopause was an issue. Forty-six per cent didn’t believe it was an issue in their firm. Ten per cent also decided to remain neutral in their response.
What are some firms doing to support female leaders?
Regarding measures introduced to counter a lack of workplace support for menopausal senior women leaders, the most seen were:
- Flexible working schedules – offered by 15 per cent
- Policy in place – introduced by 11 per cent
- Internal training for all staff or managers – introduced by 10 per cent
- Paid leave of absence – offered by eight per cent
- Menopause private medical employee benefit – six per cent
- Access to support via an app – one per cent
One respondent based also commented on the issue of companies treating this issue like a ‘check-box’. She said: “Minimum cost was spent on this. A training course was rolled out to all staff on a different topic and the trainers were asked to cover menopause briefly. All training courses were done as a window dressing to meet compliance requirements.
“No other provisions were made in the workplace. My personal opinion is the CEO is too young and too much profit driven in an environment that is dominated by a male workforce. My previous CEO also said: ‘this is a financial service industry and stress, and pay is part of the deal’. No empathy and emotional intelligence exist in leadership.”
‘Building a more inclusive working culture’
Tracy Vegro OBE, chief executive at the CISI, discussed possible causes for the survey findings. She explained: “This is our first ever sector survey looking at this fundamental aspect of women’s health. Financial services firms are at differing stages of their policy formation on this issue.
“Lack of knowledge, need for greater awareness and ways to tackle the perceived stigma around the menopause are all key challenges. At CISI we have put in place a programme of CPD learning, including digital and in-person events, which is being developed further for our global membership.”
Claire Tunley, chief executive at the Financial Services Skills Commission, also commented on the situation. Tunley said: “The financial services sector is facing a huge skills shortage. Firms are working hard to break the menopause taboo and support colleagues through their menopause transition but there is more work to do.
“Generating greater awareness, understanding and building a more inclusive working culture, will empower individuals and help retain valuable, expertise and talent. This will ensure the industry continues to build skills, drive innovation, and boost overall competitiveness.”