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We’re not looking for Superwomen

Annie Peate

12 March 2012

A new report published today (12 March) by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) claims women aren’t after examples of female role models who have ‘given it all’ to reach senior management positions. Instead, women would prefer to see mentors who have achieved a successful work/life balance – without the sacrifice repeatedly advertised as integral to success. 

Women in Banking contains over 800 interviews with both men and women from the banking industry and provides further confirmation that the obstacles women face in terms of progression in the sector remain significant. But most startling of all is the evidence which suggests that women are opting out of banking altogether, put off by the fixation on presenteeism, lack of flexible-working, general management culture, and still - disappointingly – the attitudes of male senior managers. Such evidence is cause for concern, as fewer visibly successful senior women in the industry will undoubtedly result in fewer women being tempted into the profession.

The recommendations of the ILM’s report are aimed at attracting and retaining female talent by raising general awareness of senior managers of the on-going prevalence of the glass ceiling, introducing mentoring programmes and female friendly networking opportunities, and more visibly celebrating female success stories. However, it seems the greatest obstacle of all remains the pervasive male-dominated culture the industry rests upon. And with fewer women choosing to participate in the sector altogether, not to mention the stalling careers of those already working in the sector, the chance of improving the numbers of female senior managers in banking looks bleak.