Advancing more women leaders in financial services: A global report
Deloitte’s Within reach series on women in financial services expands and offers strategies to help firms achieve gender equity around the world
- Globally, within financial services institutions, women held 21% of board seats, 19% of C-suite roles, and 5% of CEO positions in 2021.
- The multiplier effect—a positive, quantifiable increase, ranging between 2x–5x, of women added to senior leadership levels for each woman added to the C-suite—was observed in several locations.
- There simply isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” path to achieve greater gender equity. But organizations that prioritize and advance gender equity internally can position themselves to influence public policy, shape or reshape cultural norms, and differentiate themselves across their spheres of influence: their workforces, the marketplace, and society as a whole.
Bringing gender equity into focus as a global priority
In this report, the second in our global Within reach series, Deloitte provides a baseline analysis of women in leadership roles across financial services. Our intention: to spark conversations, ideas, and innovative practices that can stimulate sustainable actions to increase women’s share across leadership roles. Equally important and applicable across geographies are the spheres of influence—workforce, the marketplace, and society—that challenge, impact, and support an organization in its pursuit of gender equity. Each sphere has a vested interest in how organizations are addressing existing gaps in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) broadly and gender equity specifically.
Among the most senior roles across the globe within financial services institutions (FSIs), women held 21% of board seats, 19% of C-suite roles, and 5% of CEO positions in 2021 (figure 1). These statistics illustrate that more work needs to be done to advance gender equity across the industry. They should also motivate firms to review and evaluate how they plan to advance women in leadership across their organisations.
Our analysis reveals a wide disparity in the multiplier effect across global geographies, ranging between 2x to as high as 5x. Companies should consider the opportunity their geographical multiplier effect provides to exponentially amplify their gender equity efforts as they elevate women into more senior leadership roles.
— Alison Rogish, US Banking and Capital Markets DEI leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Meaningful change generally happens at the local and organizational level. With that in mind, we’ve expanded our analyses1 of the current share and forecast growth2 over the next decade of women in FSIs by role categories (see sidebar, "Defining the leadership role categories of women in financial services") across select locations.3 The locations presented in this report were chosen based on areas that have the highest number of financial institutions, according to BoardEx data.
Throughout the Within reach series, when there are enough women in leadership ranks at the organizational level, we’ve seen strong evidence of the multiplier effect: For each woman added to the C-suite, there was a positive, quantifiable impact on the number of women in senior leadership levels just below the C-suite (see endnotes for details and methodology).4 The multiplier effect is included within the locations where it was observed.
Progress by the numbers
The four European countries reflected in our country analysis exhibit strong shares of women in their next generation category. The current and planned legislative and voluntary actions aimed at increasing women’s share at the executive levels may drive greater representation across levels within these countries.
In France, over the last five years, the government enacted a series of measures, or “obligations," to promote gender equality in the workplace.5 Women currently hold 21.4% of C-suite roles and are on a strong growth trend to reach 28% by 2030. Like other European countries, France is a proponent of quotas to drive change. Almost a decade ago, it implemented a 40% quota for women on supervisory boards. In 2021, gender quotas were introduced for senior leadership and management committee seats within companies over 1,000 people, targeting women’s representation of 30% by 2027 and 40% by 2030.6 Considering France’s 3.3x multiplier effect, this could accelerate the forecasted growth among senior leadership as well.
Germany’s parliament adopted a law in 2015 aimed at increasing the number of women in leadership positions in the private and public sectors. Updated in 2021, the “second law” outlines requirements to appoint at least one woman and one man to an executive board with more than three members with an aim to achieve equal participation of men and women in leadership positions in public sector companies by the end of 2025.7 One study on the potential impact of the law shows that if all companies comply with the new regulation, the average proportion of women on the executive boards of affected companies would rise to 21% from 13%.8 With our observed 5x multiplier effect in Germany, the highest across the locations in our analysis, perhaps these laws will spur greater gender balance across ranks within German FSIs.
The United Kingdom has made and will likely continue to make progress advancing gender equity within the financial services industry. In the banking sector, for instance, the proportion of women CEOs rose to 9.7% in 2020 from just 1.7% in 2001.9 And women are forecast to account for one-quarter of positions across the three leadership ranks. But our forecast anticipates growth only among C-suite and senior leadership roles; the representation of women in the next generation roles is forecast at near-zero growth by 2030. Nonetheless, multiple initiatives, including the Women in Finance Charter, Hampton‑Alexander Review, and Social Mobility Employer Index are underway to build and retain diverse talent across the industry. In addition, a robust multiplier effect of 2.8x should go a long way to help bridge the gender gap.
The Netherlands exhibits one of the fastest growth rates (13 pps) in the share of women in C-suite roles over the past decade. By 2030, women are likely to account for one-quarter of all C-suite roles. Among next generation roles, women may make up 32.4% of this segment by the end of the decade. Their representation in the senior leadership ranks, however, is forecast to decelerate by 1.3 pps to 18% by 2030. Despite a multiplier effect of 2.3x at an organizational level, the widening gap between the percentage of women in C-suite and senior leadership roles could be problematic.
Creating an inclusive culture that promotes open and honest conversations to discuss and plan career goals and career progression is one thing all leaders should be acting on now to accelerate the path to leadership positions for women.
— Helena Vega-Lozano, partner, NSE Banking & Capital Markets leader, Deloitte LLP
Recently, the Dutch government replaced soft quotas, set in 2013, with a new, more binding regulation for women serving on corporate boards. This could prompt further action. The presence of women on boards can reinforce a company’s culture and public image of diversity and inclusion, thus allowing them to retain and cultivate talent at all levels. Moreover, the Netherlands-based ABN AMRO’s practices of writing gender-sensitive job descriptions and having men and women jointly conduct job interviews is one way to potentially attract more women professionals in the recruiting process.10
Why gender equity is a business imperative
Overall, our analysis reflects progress over the previous two decades. But to drive growth over the next decade, the numbers underscore the need for FSIs to make a concentrated effort and commitment across geographies. Actions taken now can alter outcomes over the next few years, while inaction may reverse hard-won gains by 2030. Propelling gender equity from an internal initiative to a business imperative entails incorporating it into every facet of the business and at every level of the organization.11 Deloitte’s The equity imperative notes that equity should be treated as a business outcome: “with careful planning, clear metrics, and continual actions to meet the objective.”12 The organization’s spheres of influence—workforce, marketplace, and society—are increasingly advocating for transparency, accountability, and observable progress toward greater gender equity.
Achieving gender equity is a long journey. Some FSIs have substantially increased the number of women in senior leadership roles by maintaining their focus on gender equity and strategically starting their succession planning early—in some cases, over the course of five years or more.
— Laurence Dubois, partner, Deloitte & Associés, France
Advancing the organization’s workforce strategies, including diversity goals and recruiting and retention practices, should be measured, reported, and communicated across the organization. Leaders who support and drive transformational opportunities, even by creating nontraditional paths to leadership, may help their organizations become highly sought-after employers.
Providing a global view into women’s opinions about gender diversity within their own organizations since the beginning of the pandemic, Deloitte Global’s 2022 Women at Work study revealed that only 16% of financial services respondents say their organization communicates on gender diversity targets and only 24% feel their organization’s leadership is gender diverse. That said, 55% of respondents also feel their organization’s commitment to supporting women has increased during the pandemic.13
Employers can address these issues head-on by regularly communicating internally and externally on the importance of gender diversity, the actions they are taking, and the progress they’ve made. This may help reverse some of these indicators and contribute to higher employee retention rates. An encouraging key finding of the study that transcended geography, industries, and demographics: When women experience a truly respectful and inclusive workplace culture, they are more engaged, productive, and loyal to their organizations.14
Suppliers, alliance partners, and investors are increasingly focused on enhancing women’s representation on boards and in executive leadership, improving transparency in DEI efforts, and designating accountability for gender equity outcomes.15 Deloitte’s Global 2022 Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) Survey reports that 56% of corporate purpose efforts are related to DEI, yet only 32% of the respondent CSOs say executive compensation was tied to purpose priorities, such as environmental, social, and governance (ESG).16 Clearly, organizations have an opportunity to close the gap between efforts and accountability.
In a recent study of institutional investors, more than 70% of respondents indicated their firms apply exclusionary screening based on a company’s diversity metrics.17And 69% reported that diversity within a company’s board has a significant impact on their trust in the organization. Among US respondents, 66% indicated a high level of trust is needed to attract and retain top talent and 74% said a company’s ability to attract top talent is more important in winning their trust than securing new customers or increasing a valuation multiple.18
The challenges in addressing the expectations and requirements across marketplace stakeholders are multifaceted; they will require organizations to work with stakeholders to prioritize gender equity across the marketplace.
An organization’s corporate social purpose can build brand and reputation; attract and retain talent;19 and, if well-defined, can create opportunities to advocate for and drive political and social change.
Public policy is playing a greater role in setting targets and diversity requirements for public and private institutions around the world. In some locations, legislative actions have resulted in more women in leadership roles; in others, self-imposed targets have achieved similar results. There simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all path toward achieving greater gender equity. Yet, organizations that work collaboratively with their stakeholders to prioritize and advance gender equity within their organizations can help to influence public policy, shape or reshape cultural norms, and differentiate themselves as equitable organizations across their workforce, the marketplace, and society.
1 Quantitative analyses: The quantitative analyses reported are based on the Deloitte Center for Financial Services’ proprietary analysis and custom segmentation of financial services institutions’ data from BoardEx LLC from 1998 through December 31, 2021. Where used throughout the report, “financial services” or “FSIs” denote banking, capital markets, commercial real estate, insurance, investment management, and payments provider firms.
2 Forecast projections: The 2022–2030 projections for women’s share of C-suite roles, senior leadership roles, and next generation roles employed the following prediction methodology: The percentage of women for each role category from 1998 to 2021 was considered for modeling purposes. The final models selected for predicting were time series models that used the Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average model. The data was split into train and test in the proportion of 80-20. Then a grid search algorithm was applied to arrive at the best possible model. Diagnostic checks of the selected model were performed and found to be stable for the in-sample data. Out-of-sample predictions were made for the year from 2022 to 2030. Slight recent downward trends are due to our modeling approach, which favors more recent data changes over longer-term trends. In addition, workforce challenges, including pandemic-related transitions, over recent years are possible contributors to several downward trends reflected in the forecast. View in Article
3 The assignment of countries or areas to our regional groupings was for our analysis purposes and does not imply any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories. We used the UN Statistical Division’s alignment as our guide.
4 The multiplier effect: A cross-sectional association analysis was conducted at the organizational level to determine the multiplier effect. We used linear regression to quantify the multiplier effect, which effectively reveals x fold change in senior leadership for each additional woman added to the C-suite. As observed in several locations, if a linear correlation does not exist, the multiplier effect is not statistically relevant, and is deemed not applicable for a particular region or location at this time.
5 Marion Le Roux and Ji Eun Kaela Kim, France: New gender equality obligations established , SHRM, March 15, 2019.
6 Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, “France unanimously votes gender quotas for executive leadership ,” Forbes, May 15, 2021.
7 Library of Congress, “Germany: Second law establishing gender quotas to increase number of women in company leadership positions enters into force ,” accessed April 9, 2022.
8 Anja Kirsch and Katharina Wrohlich, Number of women on boards of large firms increasing slowly; legal requirements could provide momentum , DIW Berlin, April 3, 2021.
9 Financial Conduct Authority, Diversity and inclusion in the financial sector – working together to drive change , October 8, 2021.
10 ABN AMRO, “High score for ABN AMRO in Equileap gender equality report ,” October 28, 2021.
11 Deloitte, The equity imperative .
13 Deloitte, Women @ Work 2022: A global outlook , 2022.
14 Deloitte, Women @ Work: A global outlook , 2021.
15 S&P Global, “How gender fits into ESG? ,” February 24, 2020.View in Article
16 Bernardo Silva et al., 2022 Chief strategy officer survey , Monitor Deloitte, March 2022.
17 Edelman, Institutional investors: US results , 2020.
18 Edelman, 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer special report: The belief-driven employee , 2021.
19 Kurt Dassel and Xi Wang, Social purpose and value creation: The business returns of social impact , Deloitte, 2016.