PwC: Financial services unattractive for young females

29 June 2015

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.



Women remain underrepresented in UK's hospitality industry leadership

12 April 2019

Female engagement at the top level of the UK hospitality industry is still lagging, with the vast majority of decision-making roles continue to be held by men. Only 7% of the industry’s FTSE 350 CEOs are women; however, the pay gap in hospitality and leisure is far better than in other industries, at a median of approximately 7%.

The hospitality, travel and leisure (HTL) sector is one of the UK’s largest employers, with 3.2 million people working in its segments. Despite a poor 2018 in terms of tightening consumer spending, the industry is still one of the top sectors in terms of economic activity, hitting £130 billion last year – besting the UK’s automotive, pharmaceutical and aeronautical sectors’ combined activities.

While the industry is one of the country’s largest employers, it still faces considerable issues around diversity at the top. New analysis from PwC has explored the matter, as well what initiatives the industry has engaged to open up its top ranks to a more diverse background.

Female representation at board level for UK companies and HTLs

According to a survey of CEOs, Chairs or HR Directors of over 100 of the most significant leisure businesses across the UK, the hospitality industry has a relatively male-dominated top level. This lags behind the FTSE 100, where companies have female board level representation at 32.2%. Meanwhile, the figure for the combined executive committee and direct reports stands at 28%. This is well above FTSE 250 levels, where female board level representation stands at 22.4% and executive committee & direct reports stand at 27.8%.

For the hospitality industry as a whole, board level representation came in at 23.6%, with FTSE 350 for the industry performing slightly better at 25.1%, while non-listed companies performed considerably worse at 18.2%. The firm notes that the figures hide that while some companies are making strides to improve equality, others are not moving forward – with the positive result reflecting more often the good work of some, while others are not taking the issue seriously in their agenda setting.

Blind spot

The study states, however, that while the overall numbers are relatively strong, the industry has a number of acute weaknesses. These include CEO numbers, with only 7% of HTL FTSE 350 companies helmed by women and 11% of non-listed companies led by female CEOs. Meanwhile, female chairs at FTSE 350 companies for the sector stand at zero. In terms of wider diversity representation, only 1 in 33 leaders at industry companies is from a BAME background.

Pay gap for HTL and hospitality

The report noted discrepancies between FTSE 100 companies and FTSE 250 in terms of improving the number of women at executive level. The majority have met the Hampton-Alexander Review target of 33% women at board level, up from around 25% in 2016. However, the remaining ~40% are not on target, and are unlikely to meet the target by 2020. A similar trend is noted when it comes to executive committee and direct reporting numbers.

Jon Terry, Diversity & Inclusion Consulting Leader at PwC, said, "To make real progress in diversity and inclusion, businesses need to elevate it onto the CEO’s agenda and align diversity & inclusion strategy to the fundamentals of the business."

Tracking progress FTSE 250 level

However, one area where hospitality travel and leisure companies are outperforming other companies in the wider UK economy, is the mean and median pay gap between men and women. PwC found that the median of the wider UK economy comes is approximately 14% – with upper quartile companies noted for a gap of low 20%, and lower quartile companies noted for differences of around 2%.

The median pay gap for HTL comes in at well below 7%, with the median close to parity. There are considerable differences, however, with hospitality at 7%, while travel comes in considerably higher, at 22%. The latter figure reflects fewer women in higher paid pilot and technical positions within the industry.