11 minute read 08 June 2023

Advancing women leaders in the financial services industry, 2023 update: A global assessment

More women have joined the highest levels of financial services industry leadership across regions. But progress has been slow. What steps can organizations take now to accelerate the path toward equity?

Alison Rogish

Alison Rogish

United States

Neda Shemluck

Neda Shemluck

United States

Samia Hazuria

Samia Hazuria


Patty Danielecki

Patty Danielecki

United States

Across financial services organizations globally, is gender parity in the C-suite within reach? It could be—if many organizations prioritize advancement of women in leadership now.

Since 2019, the Deloitte Center for Financial Services has researched women’s progress in reaching financial services leadership in real terms: numbers and actions. Last year, we expanded our research to uncover what was happening in financial services organizations around the world. This year, our global study includes more than 68,000 financial services institutions (FSIs) across sectors in nearly 200 countries and territories.

This update focuses on the top jobs: How are women faring in ascending to the highest levels of leadership? How was this tracking with the share of women on FSI boards? And are organizations focusing enough on nurturing talent in the pipeline, talented women who could move into these leadership roles in the next few years?

Results are mixed. There has been progress across regions, but in most, it has been incremental. What’s more, if organizations continue to devote the current level of effort toward achieving gender equity among their leadership team, progress will likely slow or stagnate by 2031. Many organizations may need to take steps now to attract, develop, and retain women for top roles—and focus on their pipeline of senior leadership and next-generation leaders (manager or equivalent titles below senior leadership) to create tangible advancement paths within their organizations.

Progress by the numbers

The number of women in financial services who reach to the highest levels of leadership—the C-suite and the board—is rising. Over the past decade, more women have been added to FSI C-suites than men. Women now account for 18% of C-suite positions globally (figure 1). Without a more concerted effort, global growth in the share of women financial leaders may not even reach 25% by 2031.

This growth mirrors progress in board gender diversity over the same time period, suggesting a synergistic relationship may exist between the two (figure 2). More women in the C-suite may help attract more women in the boardroom, and vice versa.1

Regional outlook: Oceania leads in C-suite growth

The share of women in the C-suite has grown across regions, and this growth will likely continue (figure 3). The most progress among regions has been made in Oceania. In particular, Australia’s implementation of gender-equity measures at the government and employer levels continues to produce results. Many organizations in Australia have been making active efforts to place more women in the C-suite.2

In Europe, however, growth in women’s share of C-suite positions is expected to slow. In fact, there doesn’t appear to be much of a correlation between women on the board and women in the C-suite. Despite a high share of board seats (at 32%, the highest among all regions), women are relatively underrepresented at the C-suite (17%).3 Perhaps the European Union’s Women on Boards Directive will drive measurable gains in women in leadership roles and at board level by the June 2026 implementation target date.4

More women advance to emerging roles within the C-suite than traditional ones

Our Within reach research also explores women’s share of traditional versus nontraditional roles among the C-suite. While actual role titles vary across institutions and geographies, traditional roles are those that typically report to the CEO or to the board, such as chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief marketing officer, or chief operating officer. Roles classified as nontraditional or emerging are those that typically report to another C-level role or have been created over the last two decades, such as chief digital officer, chief diversity and inclusion officer, and chief sustainability officer.

Although still comparatively low, women occupying nontraditional C-suite positions are growing at a faster pace than those in traditional C-suite positions (figure 4). Over the last decade, the number of women in nontraditional C-suite roles grew twice as fast as those in traditional C-suite roles. In the past five years, this growth rate tripled.

The power of the multiplier effect can be seen in pockets across regions

Our Within reach research continues to explore if and when there is a multiplier effect in play: For each woman added to the C-suite, there’s a positive, quantifiable impact on the number of women in senior- leadership levels just below the C-suite. The multiplier effect continues to be observed on the organizational level in select countries.

The multiplier effect can be extremely powerful. Take Germany’s example (figure 5). An analysis of European countries revealed that Germany lags its regional counterparts on women’s representation across role categories. However, at the organizational level, it showcases the highest multiplier effect. Every woman added to the C-suite results in nearly four additional women among the senior-leadership ranks, suggesting that even one additional woman in a C-suite role can make a significant difference, especially when there’s a dearth of women role models.

Stagnation may be on the horizon for women’s share of non-C-suite roles

But for the multiplier effect to be able to work, organizations should determine if they have enough talented women in senior-leadership and next-generation roles to benefit from it. Just below the C-suite are the women who could ascend to it: an organization’s talent pipeline. Women who are in senior- leadership roles are executives, such as line of business leaders, EVPs, SVPs, or regional leaders, that are one to three levels below the C-suite. Next- generation leaders are those just below them, typically those holding a title of manager or the equivalent.

Here, there is more cause for concern: At a global level, women’s representation in senior-leadership and next-generation roles has grown at a much slower pace than C-suite roles (figure 6). If the status quo continues, the share of women in senior-leadership roles could stagnate while that of next- generation roles is likely to fall by almost 2 percentage points by 2031. This should highlight the importance of gender-equity efforts and building a sustainable talent pipeline across organizations and geographies.

Regionally, South America is the only continent expected to witness growth, albeit off a low base, in women’s share of senior-leadership and next-generation roles.

Forecasts suggest Oceania, followed by Africa, will bear the biggest losses to women’s share of senior- leadership and next-generation roles by 2031, despite having the highest proportion of women in the C-suite (figure 7).

Act now for a more equitable future

The needle of progress on gender equity continues to move incrementally. Years of small gains are at risk if meaningful action isn’t taken. We’ve developed a Within Reach framework of actions, CARE – Collect, Assess, Report, and Engagethat outlines a series of steps FSI leaders should consider to help enact change (figure 8).

Collect more data

Having a complete data picture can help organizations make informed decisions. But many organizations are only scratching the surface of what they could know: 23% of organizations surveyed in Deloitte’s 2023 Global Human Capital Trends “measure progress regarding diversity commitments through adherence to compliance standards—which may focus on activities instead of the impact of those activities.”5

Comprehensive data collection is an important step in achieving gender equity. However, some European countries prohibit diversity monitoring.6 Gathering diversity data and employee feedback through regular pulse checks can highlight blind spots and help identify programs and how they’re working, allowing organizations to concentrate their resources and efforts on where it matters most. Garnering employee trust is often crucial to the data-gathering process. To gain that trust, leaders can focus on being transparent about how the data will be used. This could also garner greater participation.

Assess the data

Assessing diversity data can help set measurable goals and create accountability. Only 32% of the largest US public companies conduct a gender pay-gap analysis. And only 14% of companies report the results, mostly when they are near or at parity.7

Here are three ways to help assess data:

  1. Analyze diversity data against objectives to provide a clear picture of where the organization stands today.
  2. Benchmark findings against companies within the industry and at a global or regional level to reveal leading practices and provide meaningful input when setting targets. Starting in 2024, Australian organizations with more than 100 employees will be required to reveal gender pay-gap data, allowing for data benchmarking.8
  3. Leverage technology to help generate insights faster and minimize unconscious bias.

Report your progress to build trust

Reporting diversity information—both internally and publicly—can help boost transparency and enhance trust.9 Yet, 24% of organizations surveyed in Deloitte’s 2023 Global Human Capital Trends study “are not establishing accountability or measuring progress in their equity commitments.”10 And a recent Harvard Business Review study showed that just 28% of companies hold C-suite executives accountable for progress against the organization’s DEI strategy.11

The majority of small- and medium-sized regulated US FSIs have little to no publicly available information on diversity and inclusion. In 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) conducted an analysis of diversity and inclusion within financial services, where it found that 68% of 270 regulated FSIs have made little to no diversity and inclusion information available to the public.12When reporting, here are some practices financial services firm leaders can consider:

  1. Report progress on diversity goals, both internally (to the board and workforce) and externally. Making a public commitment can perhaps increase accountability and bolster DEI advancement.
  2. Communicate clear metrics for success within the organization to create a more equitable environment.
  3. Include measurable DEI goals, recruiting, advancement and retention efforts, pay-gap information, and strategies to close diversity gaps.
  4. Focus on outcomes achieved rather than just measuring activities and effort.

Engage with stakeholders to demonstrate commitment

FSIs should engage within and outside the organization to achieve and show commitment to gender diversity. Ninety-two percent of respondents from Deloitte’s Women @ Work 2023: A Global Outlook believe their organization is not taking concrete steps to fulfill its commitment to gender diversity.13

Leaders can foster engagement, improve their reach of the desired talent pool, and help showcase organizational commitment by:

  1. Encouraging allyship and sponsorship opportunities;
  2. Linking performance expectations and measurement to DEI goals;
  3. Creating opportunities to network, including building and supporting women networks;
  4. Investing in succession planning; and
  5. Deploying a systems-based view of how businesses can activate equitable outcomes within and outside an organization.14

FSI leaders have an opportunity to play a pivotal role in helping create a more equitable world. Taking these actions now, at the organizational level, could collectively change the trajectory of women’s share in financial services firm leadership around the world. It could even make achieving gender equity a goal that’s truly within reach.

About our research

We studied historical data from 1998–2022 and forecast growth by region and roles through 2031. This research includes more than 68,000 financial services institutions (FSIs) across nearly 200 countries and territories representing:

  • Banking and capital markets
  • Payments
  • Insurance
  • Investment management (private equity, hedge funds, mutual funds)
  • Commercial real estate

Our methodologies

  • Quantitative analysesThe 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, 2022. Where used throughout the report, “financial services” or “FSIs” denote banking, capital markets, commercial real estate, insurance, investment management, and payments provider firms industry segments.
  • Forecast methodologyThe 2023–2031 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 2022 was considered for modeling purposes. The final models selected for prediction 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 2023 to 2031. 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.
  • 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 regions, if a linear correlation does not exist, the multiplier effect is not statistically relevant, and is deemed “not applicable” for a particular region at this time.

  1. Alison Cook and Christy Glass,Diversity begets diversity? The effects of board composition on the appointment and success of women CEOs,” Science Direct 53 (2015): pp. 137–147.

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  2. Terrance Fitzsimmons, Miriam Yates, and Victor Callan, Towards board gender parity, University of Queensland, 2021.

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  3. Deloitte, Women in the boardroom: A global perspective–7th edition, 2022.

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  4. Institute of Directors, “The European Women on Boards Directive: What it means and why it matters,” April 3, 2023.

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  5. Kraig Eaton et al., Deloitte 2023 Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte, accessed May 23, 2023.

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  6. Benjamin Favaro, Lucy Lewis, and Rebecca Rule, “Diversity monitoring: A global view,” Ius Laboris, March 21, 2022.

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  7. Matthew Nestler, Aleksandra Radeva, and Ian Sanders, “Despite an uptick in 2023, only 32% of the largest U.S. companies analyze their gender pay gaps,” JUST capital, March 14, 2023.

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  8. Workplace Gender Equality Agency, “WGEA reforms: A roadmap to closing the gender pay gap,” accessed May 23, 2023.

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  9. Andy Marks and Tammy Whitehouse, “Build trust in DEI efforts to advance talent, business strategy,” Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2023.

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  10. Eaton et al., Deloitte 2023 Global Human Capital Trends.

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  11. Evelyn R. Carter and Natalie Johnson, “To sustain DEI momentum, companies must invest in 3 areas,” Harvard Business Review, November 4, 2022.

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  12. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB report on diversity and inclusion within financial services, January 19, 2022.

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  13. Deloitte, Women @ Work 2023: A Global Outlook, accessed May 23, 2023.

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  14. Deloitte, The equity imperative: The need for business to take bold action now, February 2021.

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Lead author Samia Hazuria is the cross-FSI research manager with the Deloitte Center for Financial Services.

The authors wish to thank Narasimham Mulakaluri and Gaurav Vajratkar for their insights, data analysis, and significant contributions in the development of this report.

The authors also wish to thank Amanda Pullinger, chief executive officer, 100 Women in Finance for her contribution to the Within reach series.

This report is co-sponsored by:

100 Women in Finance

100 Women in Finance strengthens the global finance industry by empowering women to achieve their professional potential at each career stage. Its members inspire, equip and advocate for a new generation of industry leadership, in which women and men serve as investment professionals and executives, equal in achievement and impact. Through Education, Peer Engagement and Impact, the organization furthers the progress of women who have chosen finance as a career and enables their positive influence over pre-career young women.

Cover image by: Natalie Pfaff

Deloitte's DEI consulting services

Deloitte’s diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) consulting services change the world by taking a systemic approach to help organizations access and engage a more diverse workforce; build inclusive leadership capabilities; foster a culture of belonging; and embed equity and inclusion across every business function. Contact the authors for more information or read more about our DEI services and workforce transformation services. To learn more please visit

Neda Shemluck

Neda Shemluck

Managing director | Client and Market Growth
Alison Rogish

Alison Rogish

Richmond Marketplace Leader


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