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Advancement of women risks 'stalling'

In 10 years, women who work in professional and more senior positions will make up 37% of those ranks, exactly the same as in 2015

The advancement of women in Europe’s leading employers is likely to stall in the years ahead despite advances they have made in top executive roles, according to a report by consulting group Mercer.

The When Women Thrive research predicted that in 10 years women who work in professional and more senior positions will make up 37% of those ranks, which is exactly the same proportion as in 2015.

Julia Howes, principal in Mercer’s Workforce Analytics practice, said that while quotas in Europe have had a big impact in boosting female representation in senior roles there is a “disturbing revolving door”.

“While firms are focused on recruiting women at the top it doesn’t appear they’re keeping them, and that could threaten the progress they’ve made unless they act now,” she said.

The report coincided with research from recruitment firm Astbury Marsden, which found that women working in the City have 50% lower bonus expectations than men. Female City workers were found to be anticipating an average bonus of £16,240 (21% of their salary), compared to men who were expecting £32,840 (34% of their salary).

This gap in expectations was found at all levels, with female directors and executive directors in the City anticipating an average bonus of £25,810 (based on the previous year’s bonus) – around half of the £50,300 expected by male directors.

Astbury Marsden managing director Adam Jackson said there have been significant steps in combating inequality but more can still be done to ensure that both genders are treated equally at all levels.

“The reality is that the sectors where there is a high reward culture are still male-dominated, with women often making up a larger proportion of the non-commission earning side of businesses such as HR or marketing,” he said. “Trading floors, for example, have a reputation for largely being a male environment and many women can be put off applying for these types of roles. Some City firms have trouble attracting and retaining enough women as a result.”

However, the report also found that women are commanding pay increases of almost a quarter (23%) when changing jobs, compared to men who are receiving an increase of just 17% on average. Additionally, a promotion meant a 21% increase to women’s average salaries compared to 19% for men.