27 February 2013
Women’s career progress in the financial services sector should be based on merit, not quotas, a new industry body says. Quotas are acceptable when a company is selecting graduates but have no place at the senior management level, according to Judith Beck, founder of Financial Executive Women (FEW). “You have 50% girls and 50% boys in a graduate program but after that, promotion has to be based on merit,” she told Life+Health insuranceNEWS.com.au.
“However, we have found women are not as good as men at promoting themselves for senior roles.” Ms Beck, MD of Financial Recruitment Group, says she often notes a lack of women applying for senior positions. “Managers tell me they haven’t received a single application from a female for a senior role they would be capable of undertaking,” she said.
“As a result, the roles would go to their male counterparts.” She says women often do not apply because they feel they lack the required skills, whereas male applicants will be more inclined to apply even if they meet only some of the position criteria. FEW provides impartial, confidential advice to high-ranking women who are looking to advance their careers.
It is sponsored by MLC, Colonial First State, the Financial Planning Association and Equipsuper. Other founders include Suncorp Life EM Superannuation Cathy Duncan, Colonial EGM Linda Elkins and Equipsuper CEO Danielle Press. The group will provide career advocates to guide women seeking more senior roles, Ms Beck says. “It is often difficult to find somebody to talk to outside their current employer. We are providing a confidential forum to help them.”
She says the financial services industry has a reputation for groups of men moving together to a new employer or being recruited by former colleagues who have already moved. While it’s acceptable for people to recruit former colleagues they know and trust, women should also benefit from this. “It doesn’t have to be a men’s network,” Ms Beck said. “Women are just as capable of proving they are the right person for the team. They should get to know the internal stakeholders and be part of that group.”