Assessing the Progress of Women in Leadership Roles within the Financial Services Industry: Global Insights, 2023 Update

June 8, 2023 : Gender parity in the C-suite within financial services organizations is a discussion topic. To determine if it is achievable, the Deloitte Center for Financial Services conducted extensive research on women’s progress in leadership positions within the industry. The study expanded to include over 68,000 financial services institutions across sectors and countries worldwide.

The research examined the representation of women in top leadership roles, the correlation between women on boards and in the C-suite, and the focus on developing female talent for future leadership positions. The findings indicate that progress has been made in various regions, albeit slowly. Without concerted efforts, the trajectory suggests that the progress toward gender equity in leadership will be insufficient by 2031. Consequently, organizations must prioritize attracting, developing, and retaining women for senior positions and establish clear advancement paths.

In terms of numbers, there has been a rise in women reaching the highest levels of leadership, with more women added to the C-suite than men in the past decade. However, women currently hold only 18% of C-suite positions globally. The study predicts that the percentage may not exceed 25% without intervention by 2031.

Regional analysis reveals that Oceania, particularly Australia, has made notable strides in increasing female representation in the C-suite due to gender-equity measures implemented at the government and employer levels. Conversely, Europe is expected to experience a slowdown in the growth of women’s share in the C-suite, despite having a high percentage of women on boards. The European Union’s Women on Boards Directive is anticipated to drive improvements in leadership roles by the targeted implementation date 2026.

The research also explores the shift in traditional and nontraditional C-suite roles. While the number of women in traditional roles has increased, the growth rate in nontraditional positions in the past two decades has been even higher. This signifies a trend towards more diverse leadership positions in financial services organizations.

Additionally, the study highlights the multiplier effect, demonstrating that each woman added to the C-suite positively influences the number of women in senior leadership positions just below. This effect is observed in certain countries, such as Germany, where adding a woman to the C-suite results in approximately four more women in senior leadership roles.

However, the research raises concerns about the representation of women in senior leadership and next-generation roles, as the growth rate in these positions lags behind the C-suite. Without intervention, the share of women in senior leadership may stagnate, and representation in next-generation roles is predicted to decline by almost two percentage points by 2031.

To address these challenges and promote gender equity, organizations should gather comprehensive data, analyze it against objectives, benchmark findings, and leverage technology to minimize bias. Reporting progress on diversity goals and engaging stakeholders internally and externally can enhance transparency, trust, and commitment to gender diversity.

Financial services leaders play a crucial role in achieving gender equity. By taking action at the organizational level, they can collectively alter the course of women’s representation in leadership positions and work towards a more equitable future.