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Women still battling for equality in finance sector

A recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has slammed Japan for wasting its well-educated female labour force (Forbes). And it seems the financial services industry is no exception.

Board members at the Tokyo-based Association for Women in Finance say women are still under-represented in senior finance positions and that anecdotal evidence suggests they can often expect to earn less than their male counterparts. The board believes more female role models in senior positions could greatly help to change this trend.

At TaIent 2, consultant Jennifer Mertens says inequalities and bias are still lingering, especially within domestic financial services firms. “I often meet Japanese women working at domestic banks who are keen to join foreign banks because they simply are not given the opportunities to develop their careers in a managerial direction; nor are they mentored or groomed like their male counterparts,” she says.

Mertens adds that there are many women occupying managerial positions at foreign banks, especially in operations.

Todd Gaytley, a manager at the Specialized Group, says that compared to other major financial centres like the US or the UK, Japan has some way to go before it achieves the same level of equality. However, while he agrees there are still inequalities, particularly in advancement opportunities, he adds that the number of women in senior positions is nonetheless significant and seems to be steadily rising.

Gaytley adds that some of the larger investment banks now offer support for childcare and operate policies which allow working mothers flex-time to enable them to spend more time at home. “I think that more and more companies are recognising the need to retain their skilled female workers,” he says.

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