The study asked a broad range of questions, focusing on issues ranging from female board representation in the companies polled to the gender pay gap. The number of respondents working for organisations with a female CEO has increased to 8% – a figure slightly higher than the 6.6% of Fortune 500 companies that currently have female CEOs. The study found that the proportion of participants working for a company with a female CFO to be 19%, compared to 24% in 2018. Shockingly, the number of respondents that believe they are not paid the same as men at a similar level of seniority has increased from 39% in 2018 to 47% this year. It is very clear that many women still perceive themselves to be less valued and appreciated in their organisations than men.
When asked if their organisations had diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity strategies in place, 70% of respondents replied in the affirmative. However, only 26% said that diversity, inclusion and equal opportunities were recognised as key performance indicators (KPIs) in their organisations.
Another important topic tackled by the Women in Treasury study is that of quotas for board representation. Every year, the study asks respondents whether they are in favour of introducing quotas for female representation on boards. Since the launch of the study there has been a steady rise in the proportion of women supporting such measures, while opposition has decreased. In 2014, for example, only 38% believed there should be quotas, with the same percentage opposed to the idea. This year, in contrast, 46% of women were in support of quotas, while only 29% were opposed.
When commenting on the reasons why quotas could have an important role to play, a key observation noted by several of the study’s participants was that change is not happening fast enough. As one participant stated, “I was of the view 15 years ago that a quota would be detrimental as I would not want to be the token woman, chosen only because I am a woman. However, progress has not been sufficiently made without quotas in the past two decades – so I feel quotas are now critical to make a difference.”
This observation supports the study’s findings that progress seems to have stagnated in certain areas. In light of this, it is more important than ever to encourage more dialogue about the challenges faced by women in treasury, and indeed by women in business. While this year has seen an improvement in the number of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 from 4.8% to 6.6%, this still only equates to 33 women out of 500 – giving some indication of the scale of the challenge ahead.
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