Representatives from finance firms across the City of London said more work was needed to tackle gaping gender disparities in the industry, even after companies have made gains in the past five years.
Trade groups representing hedge funds, banks and insurers presented figures on Wednesday to lawmakers investigating sexism in finance which showed they’d largely made progress on representation of women in their industries. Within hedge funds, for example, the share of women has risen from 19 percent in 2019 to 27 percent this year.
At senior levels, that figure drops to around 20 percent, said Adam Jacobs-Dean, a managing director at The Alternative Investment Management Association. “So, it’s still clearly work to be done on that front,” he said.
The inquiry into the state of gender equality in the City follows a series of high-profile sexual harassment scandals this year, including allegations against hedge fund titan Crispin Odey and the Confederation of British Industry, the country’s largest business lobby group. Wednesday’s hearing was meant to explore the progress the industry has made since 2018, when the Treasury Committee led an inquiry into the issue.
Despite the representation gains, the committee has received private evidence showing there’s still more to be done to reform the culture of these industries, according to Conservative Party politician Caroline Nokes.
For instance, Nokes said, the committee learned of a 25-year-old woman who was instructed by a male manager to wear trousers when she attended a major insurance conference earlier this year to protect herself from being groped by attendees.
“It’s bloody awful,” Yvonne Braun, a director for the Association of British Insurers, said in the hearing. “Nobody suggests that there isn’t still a lot of stuff going on which is completely unacceptable.”
Photograph: Commuters cross London Bridge in London, UK, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. Photo credit: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg