The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) — the standards body for the stocks and bonds trading industries in the UK — released the results of a pretty interesting survey that shows, effectively, traders are happy to keep their part of the City an “old boys” club.
To be a trader in the UK you need to be approved by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA’s latest data shows that a huge 82% of the 125,000 approved persons working in customer function positions are men.
In response, the CISI put up what you’d think might be a pretty straight forward poll on its site — should the financial services industry do more to correct the gender imbalance? You’d think it would be sensible and fair to try and address the very obvious problem.
But of the 931 respondents, 57% said industry shouldn’t do anything to improve career opportunities for women. Of the 57%, 33% say they “strongly disagree”. Only 28% of voters “strongly agreed” that financial services needs to do more to recruit women.
Here are some of the responses from the “against” camp:
- I believe in a meritocracy. The appointment of directors should be based on ability and not half-baked positive discrimination.
- Who cares? Primary school teachers are overwhelmingly female. There’s nothing stopping men becoming primary school teachers or women becoming stockbrokers. But the genders CHOOSE different jobs. It’s none of the government’s business setting targets. Leave people be.
- To make any form of ‘allowance’ to balance figures in favour of any one gender is itself bias. Allow anyone who has the drive and ability to do the job to obtain it of their own merit.
- It is what it is. Women are perfectly capable of getting on to boards if they so desire and the Government should not interfere in what is ‘natural selection’.
Those in favour of improving career opportunities for women recognised that the industry has a tendency to overemphasise “merit” while under-emphasising “networks”.
One voter said: “The disparity in the figures shown for ‘approved persons’ may well be symptomatic of boards of directors and senior management not doing their jobs properly, certainly in relation to shareholder value, and a sign that there is still significant bias towards long-term friends and contacts with whom they feel safe, as opposed to choosing the best person for the job, regardless of background and gender.”
And a female respondent — one of the only 18% in the industry — said: “It’s hard for women because it’s so male dominated. Sometimes it is a very sexist environment.”