You probably know that in banking there are significantly more men at the top than women. As a woman in banking, I often ponder on what the drivers for this are. Some might say it is driven purely by inequality men are paid more after all. A recent article in the FT referenced salary differences for men and women doing the same job, showing men get paid approximately 25% more than women. The same article implies the gender pay gap increases the higher up the chain. I suspect this is partly due to the fact that pay scales vary more significantly the higher up the chain you go so the data could be skewed with small samples.
I know many women in banking and have observed them at work on subordinate, superior and peer levels. Women at the top are often stigmatized as ruthless, cold-hearted and career focused to the extent that they sacrifice the quality of their home life or forfeit having children altogether. However when you look at men at the top in banking, are they really any different? Well frankly no. Working at the top requires sacrifice, long hours, commitment to do whatever it takes to get the required results . Most people at the top, whether they are men or women are intelligent, driven individuals who are passionate about their job and work longer hours than they would like. All relish their precious holidays and spend the other 46 weeks of the year with unusually high stress levels that have become the “norm”. Perhaps those at the top are simply the personalities that thrive off the pressure and challenges that their responsibility brings. Perhaps those features are more commonly found in men than women.
I truly believe that if you are good at what you do and consistently deliver and outperform your peers then you will be rewarded. If you remain at the same company for years then your experience and salary will not increase as much as it would if you moved externally. These factors are not gender specific. If you are a woman in banking and want to advance your career then don’t talk about the gender gap or inequality just get the experience and training you need and be the best at what you do. The world is changing and you are a part of that change.
Dr Heidi Kharbhih, 11 April 2014