Women make comeback after pandemic restrictions ease

Louise Powrie Core-Asset

WOMEN in the financial services sector have bounced back following the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions according to one of Scotland’s leading recruiters.

It found around half of candidates registering in the past quarter have been women, in contrast to the previous one which saw just 35 per cent of female applicants.

Easing restrictions and the introduction of hybrid working is thought to have been responsible for the resurgence of women, especially among those with young families.

The U-turn comes after fears the pandemic would set back diversity within the financial sector as women faced being disproportionately affected by lockdown.

Edinburgh-based head-hunters Core-Asset Consulting’s sixth annual Salary Guide for the Scottish financial services sector predicted a lack of childcare and home schooling would hamper women with young children – particularly those in senior management positions.

More broadly, the report also warned that remote working ran the risk of reinforcing any pre-existing cultural and behaviour biases within companies and undermining inclusive work culture.

But it’s now thought flexible working culture and fundamental industry changes spawned from the pandemic, will push greater diversity in the workplace.

greater flexibility for office workers is a huge benefit, particularly those who are working parents and are not having to commute to an office five days a week.

Louise Powrie, Director of Financial & Professional Services, said: “In the past four months, we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of female candidates applying for roles against the previous quarter, coinciding with employers looking to tap into a talented female market by adapting their working practice.

“More and more employers are recognising the need for flexibility, particularly for candidates with young children, and are embracing hybrid working patterns.

“Though there is still a shortage of women within senior management roles, specifically in wealth management, finance and tech firms, we are beginning to see a better gender balance across the board.”

“In contrast to the last quarter, the market is now extremely candidate driven, meaning employers are more willing to adopt new, more appealing strategies to bring in the right talent.

While Covid cases continue to rise, the financial services sector is recognising the importance of home and hybrid working for the duration of the year.

Powrie added: “The majority of employers understand they will be adopting hybrid or remote working for the remainder of the year. While this is dependent on the business’ needs, the general consensus is these working models are here to stay for the foreseeable.

“This is now having a profound impact on the job market, with businesses in London now looking to attract Scottish talent with the lure of remote working and a London salary.

“It is universally viewed that demanding candidates work in the office five days a week would place employers at a disadvantage to those which are offering hybrid or remote working.

“We are still seeing a reluctance from employers to adopt a shorter working week, as is a hot topic at the moment, but greater flexibility for office workers is a huge benefit, particularly those who are working parents and are not having to commute to an office five days a week.

“As a result of this we are seeing encouraging signs of greater diversity within key management positions.”

More on the Industry Trends and Salary Guide here