PwC: Financial services unattractive for young females

29 June 2015 3 min. read

Female millennials are less inclined to join the financial services industry as they feel this sector lacks in diversity, something that is high on their wish-list when it comes to choosing an employer, research by PwC shows. According to the firm, while biases are felt in all industries, the percentage of young females experiencing these biases is higher in financial services. Especially the perceived lack of career progression is seen as a big hurdle to joining the sector.

New research by professional services firm PwC, titled ‘Female millennials* in financial services: strategies for a new era of talent’, investigates the perceptions, aspirations and characteristics of young women working in financial services. The report, for which the firm surveyed 10,105 millennial respondents from over 70 countries of which 8,756 were female, shows that financial services is not the most attractive industry for young females.


The research shows that embracing diversity proves to be beneficial for companies, with 85% of the companies surveyed in PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey, who have a strategy to promote diversity and inclusiveness, experiencing enhanced business performances. Eight out of ten indicate a strengthened brand and reputation and the same percentage experience benefits in their innovation.

Although the benefits of diversity seem clear, PwC’s report shows that the financial services industry is lacking in diversity and is facing a number of hurdles in attracting and retaining female millennials. One in five female respondents says they do not want to work in financial services as a result of the image of the industry.

Employers are biased towards men in…

While diversity is high on the wish-list of female millennials, 60% says financial services firms are not doing enough to encourage diversity. The research shows that although biases towards men are felt by female millennials in all industries, more young women in financial services are feeling disadvantaged. The biggest biases are felt with promotions (50%), the development of employees (36%) and retention of employees (34%). 

The biggest reason for women to leave their jobs financial services or preventing them from joining the sector is the perceived lack of career progression, named by 34% of female millennials. This is followed by the work not being interesting/meaningful enough (29%), finding a better paid job elsewhere (29%), and a lack of development/learning opportunities (22%).

Reasons why female millennials in FS leave their employer

“It is clear that financial services firms have a way to go to attract and keep hold of this new era of female talent. These women are ambitious and looking to progress and if these expectations aren’t met women will simply be put off joining or will vote with their feet and leave. Within this highly networked generation, poor perceptions of current staff can quickly spread and discourage potential recruits,” comments Jon Terry, PwC’s Financial Services HR Consulting Leader.

According to Terry, the results of the survey should “be a wake-up call for those in the financial services sector to bring their diversity policies to life, redefine their definition of what makes a leader, re-evaluate how they develop their people and create a structure where women can thrive and not be stifled. Having visible female role models at all levels of an organisation will be an important step to show employees and potential employees that leadership positions are achievable for all.”

* In its report, PwC identifies millennials as those born between 1980 and 1995.