#IWD2022: new book from Kings’ Business School lecturer says Financial Services must take urgent action to boost flexibility for parents

by | Mar 8, 2022

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Steps must be urgently taken to facilitate employees within the Financial Services Industry to be guilt-free parents and carers or it risks loses business and money warns Dr. Ylva Baeckström, finance lecturer at King’s Business School, in her new book Gender and Finance – Addressing Inequality in the Financial Services.The book will be launched at an event at King’s Business School on International Women’s Day (Tuesday 8 March)

Dr Baeckström draws on her knowledge and own academic research to set out how women’s exclusion in financial services is mirrored by men’s exclusion from parenting through a similar set of societal expectations, government legislation and corporate policies. She argues that the financial services industry has the opportunity to change and to champion gender equal practices to showcase how this will improve lives and profits for everyone.

Within the book Dr Baeckström argues that no one in financial services should need to choose between their careers and being a parent and the pandemic has proved that both are possible the industry continuing to thrive. It now has to continue to ensure that it is socially acceptable for fathers to parent their children and to share parenting responsibilities. To make this happen the industry needs to break free from homogeneity and group thinking, enable equal opportunities for all and embrace diverse leadership through steps such as:

Embracing flexible working: The evidence is that these practices work, with the Financial services industry in particular continuing to thrive during the 2020/2021 lockdowns. Organisations must consider not just offering flexible working practices but instead requiring them from their staff so that everyone is offered fair and equal opportunities. This will also benefit families whose children will see more of their parents and organisations whose staff are less likely to burn out from too long and unsociable working hours and exhausting commutes. Make flexible working a contractual obligation.

Stop calling it maternity leave: The term ‘maternity leave’ is discriminatory, it discriminates against father and mothers alike.

Take parental leave: Allowing women to progress more at work can also be a powerful liberation for men. Allowing fathers to parent more will create better balanced families and more equality in personal relationships and a higher level of satisfaction for men. The world then benefits from future generations in which all genders become accustomed to both parents parenting and both parents being able to have careers.

Dr Ylva Baeckström, Lecturer in Finance at King’s Business School, said: “Financial services needs to stop being afraid of difference. A cleverly composed environmental, social and governance strategy in financial services would consider how the industry can be rebuilt to harness the resources of all its contributors for the benefit of all. This future industry would operate in harmony with society instead of benefiting a few but being destructive or restrictive to many.”

The book further explores, that the financial services industry has a fossilised structure that ranges from the design of the buildings that house it, to the office equipment used to support it – all of which were designed for men and given them best chance to succeed.  The male culture is even embedded in the language used on the trading floor and in the office exemplified through the banter that goes too far that women are expected to join in with, regardless of how derogatory it is.

This lack of financial equality tracks a woman’s whole life, with significant negative consequences. She earns less, saves less and less is contributed to her pension. The negative financial effect of being female follows her from early working life all the way to the grave.

Dr Ylva Baeckström, Lecturer in Finance at King’s Business School, added:Women are deterred from applying for jobs in alpha-male domains but it’s the alpha-male domains that need female skills the most. Large banks are investing in trying to attract more female talent through women-focused recruitment and retention initiatives. But a big part of the problem is that financial institutions are trying to get women to become more like them, to adopt their male gender”.


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