Women Have Been Hugely Underrepresented in Capital Markets Posts in Canada for the Past Decade

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Women are vastly underrepresented in capital markets roles and in senior-level capital markets positions in Canada, new research finds.

In fact, not much has changed in this regard over the past 10 years, says the study, commissioned by Toronto-based Women in Capital Markets (WCM) and conducted by the Wall Street-based women’s research and advisory organization known as Catalyst.

Factors including male-dominated networks and a persistent stigma around work-life balance continue to impact women’s advancement in this area, says the data, compiled as part of a newly-released guidebook, titled “Women and Men in Canadian Capital Markets: An Action Plan for Gender Diversity.”

Women account for 23 percent of analysts and associates

“Compared to the greater financial services industry where women account for 62 percent of workers, their representation in capital markets is 23 percent of analysts and associates,” Catalyst and WCM find.

Also, “In relation to the proportion of women being hired, they are vastly underrepresented in senior capital markets position roles where 17 percent of vice presidents and directors are women and only 10 percent are managing directors,” says the report.

Numbers similar to U.S,

Candice Morgan, director of advisory services with Catalyst, says that the Canadian numbers are similar to what one might find in the United States, though the definition of capital markets often varies between the two countries.The current data for Canadian capital markets includes investment banking, sales and trading, as well as wealth management, she emphasizes, whereas in the U.S. not all of those categories might be construed as capital markets.

The main question is, what can be done to turn the tide?

Whereas the new guidebook contains 120 recommendations on the subject, Women in Capital Markets CEO Martha Fell tells eFinancialCareers that bank leaders need to keep in mind “the bottom line result” of retaining and attracting women:

Companies with more female decision-makers are more successful

Catalyst research has found that the more women in executive positions, on boards and in other decision-making roles, the higher a company’s return to shareholders.

For instance, companies with sustained high representation of women on their boards of directors defined as those with three or more women on their boards in at least four of five years, significantly outperformed those with sustained low representation by 84 percent on return on sales, by 60 percent on return on invested capital and by 46 percent on return on equity, Catalyst finds.

“The main thing is for leadership to take action—taking tangible steps to advance women,” Fell observes.

She points to pioneers in this area including:

  • Deutsche Bank's Accomplished Top Leaders Advancement Strategy (ATLAS) program, launched in 2009 with the goal of improving the gender balance at senior levels and increasing the pool of women eligible for the most senior positions in the firm. Deutsche Bank’s 12 male Group Executive Committee members sponsor ATLAS women by championing them to lead the firm and advocating for them to fill senior-most positions. Also, Fell observes:

  • Goldman Sachs now hosts an annual meeting of women partners to discuss promotion prospects of female managing directors and high-potential vice presidents, and to keep them on its global division heads’ radar screens. Finally:

  • It’s important that young women learn about financial literacy early on if they’re ever to become interested in capital markets careers, says Fell, pointing to Texas Instruments' initiative this year to award a badge patch for girls in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The badge curriculum focuses on encouraging girls to explore education and careers related to science, technology, engineering and math.

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