While men have tended to reach the boardroom via the more traditional route of finance, women have, in the past, risen to boardroom level via marketing or HR. However, a growing number of women are now rising to boardroom level via careers in the finance function. While this is a welcome increase in gender diversity, women being promoted to role of Chief Executive, still remains slow.
Data from research specialists MSCI shows that out of 2470 large global companies, only 203 had a female chief financial officer by the end of September 2016, compared to 3.6 of women holding chief executive positions in 2016. This is up by 3.2 per cent from 2015. The UK government is urging UK companies to close the gender gap at the top of their organisations and take the lead from countries such as Norway, which has a set quota, ensuring better gender balance is met.
By rising to top jobs through finance – an area where men have been seen as the ones who are good at numbers – women are now acknowledged as competent and credible as their male counterparts. Despite this welcome increase, the top jobs are still dominated by men, and the glass ceiling remains intact in many organisations.
Although women are starting to see their worth rewarded at boardroom level the pay gap between men and women is still an issue; for example when younger women take maternity leave. According to research, starting a family costs women a third of their salary. Training, promotion and career progression are all adversely affected while trying to raise a family.
The choice to work part time in order to raise a family can be seen as a salary penalty. Until more companies implement shared parental leave, women will continue to find it hard to reach the boardroom, let alone be given salary parity in line with their male counterparts.