It is possible to draw real positives from Treasury Today Group’s eleventh edition of the Women in Treasury Global Equity Study compared to prior years. Like the notable spike in women feeling included at work and more companies offering access to internal mentors. In another finding reflective of the evolution in gender identity, more respondents (10%) either identify as non-binary or have non-binary colleagues.
However, our study finds pay equity remains an enduring challenge with (46%) female respondents saying they are paid less than male colleagues in the same role, in a sign that equity in pay continues to remain elusive.
One of the problems is transparency, with over half respondents stating that transparency in remuneration is “essential” to address the inequality. “I wasn’t paid the same as my male counterpart. I found out by accident and challenged it – it has since been rectified. But if I hadn’t challenged, I would still be paid materially less,” wrote one respondent.
Others identified “a motherhood penalty” and noted that when women aren’t paid enough “everyone in their team suffers the same fate.” Worryingly, only 8% of respondents said they had observed any recent changes in pay parity within their organisation.
Another standout theme from our 166 respondents – many with a decade or more experience in treasury and contributing from across regions and industries – is demand for flexible working. 95% of respondents said flexible working is important to them. However, our study highlights concern amongst women that working from home is increasingly seen in a negative light and is stigmatised.
Most companies treat flexible working as “normal and respected” but 8% of respondents said their company didn’t offer flexible working and 16% said, although flexible working arrangements are offered to some, they are not widely available or offered to all.
“In some ways it is worse in the banking sector. There was some flexibility on working from home post Covid but now most of the banks are very clear that they want everyone back to the office full time,” said one respondent.
Inclusion levels are higher, but this year also reveals gaps around inclusion. For example, 69% of respondents said they felt excluded from networking events because of their gender. Age, culture, religion and language also emerged as exclusionary factors for these respondents. “I see it a lot with hospitality. Many bank invitations are for sporting events and these are almost exclusively offered to males in the department. It’s an old-fashioned approach,” noted one respondent. Language also continues to prevent inclusion. “Accent! When working in a foreign country, people with accents, even if fluent, are treated as not as smart. It’s observed constantly.”
For a variety of reasons that are outlined in this study, one of the key challenges facing our bank and the industry as a whole is attracting, retaining and growing female talent and ensuring that we have a pipeline of female leaders shaping our industry as it evolves and transforms.
While there has been a lot of progress, many challenges still exist. We hope you find the insights of the Women in Treasury Global Equity Study useful in your journey towards building an empowering and equitable career experience for all colleagues across our industry.
Michael Spiegel, Global Head of Transaction Banking, Standard Chartered
Board diversity and mentorship
Only a quarter of respondents said their board was diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity and age. But as in previous years, our respondents remain circumspect whether board quotas can successfully boost diversity. Respondents suggested quotas could inadvertently create quality gaps and cited concerns about the importance of “finding the right person for the job regardless of gender.”
Elsewhere, our study revealed mentorship, sponsorship and coaching remain as critical as ever with 76% of respondents saying this support network is key to opening access to senior roles. Despite demand and endorsement, our results revealed a continued gap. Despite an improvement on last year’s level, 59% of respondents said they had to find their own mentor and that it wasn’t provided by the company.
“Like anything in life, the advice and guidance of someone who has achieved or experienced something you want is invaluable. I think it’s even more invaluable if the mentor/sponsor/coach is in the same organisation and has the understanding of the company’s values, agenda and culture,” said one respondent.
In a positive trend, respondents signpost favourable attitudes to parental leave. 42% of respondents noted a significant number of men taking up the opportunity of parental leave, observing that it has become “more commonly acceptable” for both parents to take time off. Other themes include a growing desire amongst respondents to work for a company that shares their values. Our window into DEI and current trends in treasury also found that treasurers are not always seeking to climb the corporate ladder. Only 15% of respondents seek to become CFO, and 2% CEO – more seek to serve on an independent board.
This year’s study highlights enduring challenges around DEI. Senior roles in finance remain the preserve of white men with only 10% of respondents responding that they have a female CEO while 67% said their CEO is white. But progress is visible in many areas. Shared values emerge as a growing driver behind workplace happiness and satisfaction. Our respondents continue to confront their own bias, and many note the benefits of travel when it comes to tackling unconscious bias. Our study finds there is no set path to success or getting ahead in your career, and our respondents continue to call for C-Suite executive leadership and KPIs to move the DEI needle.