A survey from the Financial Times supplement FTfm has found that more than half of women working in asset management have been on the receiving end of “inappropriate” behaviour in the office.
Meanwhile, over a third said they are subjected to sexist conduct on a weekly or monthly basis.
The survey questioned 340 global fund management staff, both male and female. Respondents commented on females being “treated like second-class citizens” and the “rugby team mentality” dominating boardrooms.
One female respondent told the survey that she knew of several female colleagues that have left the industry as a “direct result of gender discrimination and harassment”.
She added, “I left the industry when my boss sexually harassed me on an overseas work trip, threatening to end my career and ruin my reputation if I didn’t do what he wanted.”
Anne Richards, chief investment officer at Aberdeen Asset Management, suggested that external whistleblowing hotlines could be set up to ensure women feel comfortable exposing discrimination and harassment. One senior male participant said he had seen one female colleague “complain about sexual harassment and [get] fired.”
Maternity leave was also highlighted as an issue, with 69% of females citing it as a barrier to success.
Roughly two-thirds of women participating in the FTfm survey believed men in equivalent roles are paid more, but less than a fifth of men agree. Research conducted earlier this year by the Chartered Management Institute found that male managers received double the bonuses and 25% better salaries than females in similar roles.
The number of women on FTSE 100 boards has been increasing, suggesting that the industry is working towards its target of having 25% of its board made up of women by 2015. According to statistics, 19% of directors at FTSE 100 companies are now female, compared to the 12.5% in 2011.
Research by McKinsey & Company was cited in a 2011 government-commissioned review, led by Lord Davies of Abersoch, which concluded, “Evidence suggests that companies with a strong female representation at board and top management level perform better than those without and that gender-diverse boards have a positive impact on performance.”
Meanwhile, the number of women reaching top-level management positions in the City has also doubled in the last year. Women now occupy one in eight top roles in the city with females making up 20% of all professional level City employees.
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