Did you know that women represent just 27% of all managerial positions across industries worldwide? And that due to the effects of the pandemic, it will now take a whole generation more – from 99.5 years to 135.6 years – to close the gender gap? Although women have made gains in the workplace, they remain significantly underrepresented at all levels of management. There remains a “broken rung” at the bottom of the corporate ladder – one that inhibits women’s ability to even embark on the path to leadership, creating a domino effect that makes it almost impossible to achieve workplace equity.
This corporate bias especially affects women from underrepresented groups. For instance, the representation of women of color between the entry level and the C-suite drops off by more than 75%. In fact, just 4% of C-suite leaders are women of color – a figure that has remained fairly stagnant since 2018. The same can be said for LGBTQ+ women: while these women make up 2.3% of entry-level employees, they comprise only 1.6% of managers. In addition, evidence from 19 countries in 2017 shows that only 2.3% of women with disabilities held a position as a legislator, senior official, or manager – compared with 2.8% of men with disabilities.
According to data from PwC, 78% of financial institutions state that while Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is a priority, only 24% leverage it to achieve business results or respond to customer expectations. However, Bloomberg recognizes the importance and value of gender equality in the workplace. Recent research by Bloomberg Economics estimates that if women’s education and employment levels were the same as men, the global GDP would increase by $20 trillion in 2050. As such, to support D&I efforts within financial services, we conduct several gender-focused initiatives around the globe to advance disclosure and representation across industries. Read on to learn more about three of these programs.
Women in Fintech
More women are moving into the fintech space, which is estimated to be worth around $305 billion by 2025. Women in Fintech (WIF) was launched in 2017 with the goal of enabling women in this sector to develop professional knowledge, share career advice and grow valuable peer connections. Today, Bloomberg’s WIF community has over 1,200 members globally, who regularly learn from, engage with and promote one another through philanthropic initiatives and panel discussions.
“At our events, speakers and members discuss practical steps women can take to advance their fintech careers, particularly in high-growth disciplines such as quantitative investing, machine learning, and cloud computing,” explains Alyssa Gilmore, the Global Head of Communications for Bloomberg Financial Products, who has been a proud member of WIF for the past four years. “We provide a forum where women in fintech can engage with and learn from a network of female executives that expands their mentor pool beyond the walls of their own firms, so they can build key skills and relationships that will help them advance their own careers.”
Bloomberg Women’s Buy-Side Network
The first program of its kind, the Bloomberg Women’s Buy-Side Network (BWBN) is led by senior females from the asset management industry. Members aim to inspire the next generation of women buy-side leaders by providing information, training and mentoring with global thought leaders. “We invest in powering connections at all levels across the network that are meaningful and create real outcomes. As such, we are supporting a wider and more diverse pipeline for the industry and its future,” explains Helen Nelson, Head of Employee Communications (APAC) at Bloomberg. Initially started in Singapore, the network now has chapters in Australia–New Zealand, Hong Kong, India, and Japan. In 2021, chapters were added in Brazil and California.
“This BWBN Brazil chapter is an inspirational path for women who might think it is impossible to get a CEO position in asset management,” says Luciane Ribeiro, founder and principal partner of 3V Capital Asset Management Ltd, who is one of the three founding partners of the Brazil chapter. “Career progression can be slow and requires companies to commit to clear policies to support women. Women need to feel secure and active at all stages of their careers.”
Her sentiments are echoed by Bonnie Wongtrakool, Global Head of ESG Investments and Portfolio Manager at Western Asset Management, a member of the California chapter. “The asset management community in California has a uniquely strong representation of mid- to senior-level female investment professionals. The BWBN California chapter seeks to connect these women with each other, providing members across all experience levels with strategic tools and insights that will help them achieve their career goals,” she explains. “For example, over the past month, members have shared advice on common challenges such as finding a mentor, getting promoted, and negotiating compensation.”
New Voices Media Training Program
To promote greater diversity in the media and ensure more balanced news coverage, Bloomberg sponsors media training workshops for female executives in business and finance worldwide. Provided free of charge, these individualized workshops equip participants with the skills and techniques they need to effectively convey their insights to viewers and readers, promoting diversity of opinion.
To date, over 300 women in 11 cities have participated in these workshops, subsequently appearing on Bloomberg TV and numerous other news outlets. The New Voices initiative also includes tracking tools that hold managers accountable to progress, as well as a searchable global database that totals more than 7,000 names of female experts in business and finance.
“On Bloomberg TV specifically, only 10% of external guests were women as recently as 2018. So many senior women in finance were off our radar. They weren’t being called by our journalists as sources; they weren’t being invited onto our broadcast platforms,” says Laura Zelenko, Senior Executive Editor for Diversity, Talent, Standards and Training at Bloomberg News. “Today, our representation of female experts on Bloomberg TV has tripled and continues to grow. There is still so much work to be done, but we know this initiative is raising the visibility of incredibly talented and smart women who didn’t have access to financial media platforms before.”
Other new and upcoming communities
In late 2021, the company launched the Bloomberg’s Women in Electronic Trading (WIET) community, which provides a strong support network for members through talks, mentorship sessions and tech workshops. This year, the company hopes to kickstart the EU Women in Finance Network, which will likewise offer members valuable networking and personal development opportunities.
Through these different programs, as well as other initiatives such as the Gender-Equality Index, Bloomberg demonstrates its commitment to promoting and investing in women in the workplace. While there is still so much more that the financial services industry can do to close the gender gap, such initiatives are a crucial step toward achieving workplace equity.