Women on the Board: Token or Totem?

Women in Financial Services

The gender balance of Boards has received much attention over recent years. Whether or not you agree with having quotas or targets for female Board members (and the jury is still out), they have clearly had an impact at major companies, including financial institutions.

Our analysis of the Boards of over 150 of the world’s leading financial services firms reveals that, on average, Financial Services Boards were 20% female in 2013. This compares to 15% in 2008 and 12% in 2003. Only 14% of these Boards were entirely male in 2013, compared to 20% in 2008 and 29% in 2003.

This increased diversity has been particularly valuable for financial services, an industry where recent mistakes have been attributed to “groupthink”, insufficient challenging of senior managers’ ideas, and losing touch with customers. In our Women on the Board article, we outline four key recommendations to continue the drive for diversity.

Visit our Women in Financial Services homepage to download our full report, please click here

Interviewee Quotes

Helen Crofts
Gender diversity needs to be incorporated across all levels and whilst the current emphasis at Board level is great news I'm slightly concerned that the momentum won't extend further down the pipeline. Boosting awareness and participation at the top end would ideally have a knock on effect through the executive and management levels, but unfortunately we don't see much evidence of this at the moment.
Helen Crofts Chair, The Women's-Insurance-Net-Work
Jane Fraser
It's a question of looking at some of the non-typical paths to the Board, especially women and people with different backgrounds than then current norm for a board member. Boards should look at other professions such as the public and legal sectors, etc. where they could find more women
Jane Fraser CEO, U.S. Consumer and Commercial Banking and CitiMortgage Citi
Dame Clara Furse
Companies are having to look further afield for competent female Board member candidates. These women, originally from non-FS industries, offer observations from different angles in the decision-making process, which can be really valuable
Dame Clara Furse Board member, Nomura Holdings Member the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee and former CEO of the LSE
Helena Morrissey
We’ve opened the lid on the cosy club
Helena Morrissey CEO, Newton Asset Management Founder of the 30% Club

Women on the Board: Token or Totem?

Download article

4 Board Recommendations