Core-Asset Consulting - 08-Mar-2021
Working women face reversal of a decade of diversity and progress
A RESPECTED entrepreneur has warned that an army of women are facing lockdown burnout that threatens to set back Scotland’s equality agenda by more than a decade.
Betsy Williamson has built up a £14m-a-year business in Edinburgh, but has now overseen major research which shows that vital gains made for working women are in danger of being reversed almost overnight.
Her firm, Core-Asset Consulting, has just published its sixth annual Salary Guide for the financial services sector, a must-read for part of Scotland’s economy which employs huge numbers of people.
However, as well as providing forensic detail on salary levels after a year of Covid and Brexit, the report also highlights the major trends likely to impact in the year ahead – and a potential crisis is looming because of the disproportionate effect lockdown has had on women.
Betsy, a mother of two young children, said: “The pandemic has delivered universal acceptance of flexible and home working, which should be a tremendous boon to working mothers in particular.
“However, it has also completely flattened all forms of schooling and childcare at the same time. The impact that is having on women is an enormous problem which all employers will soon have to reckon with.
“We’re on a knife-edge when it comes to gender diversity and equality of opportunities. Women in senior roles could be hit hardest, as they’ve worked so hard to get to those roles. This is a warning – we’re on the brink of pushing out waves of women, especially those with young children.”
Research in the Salary Guide is exclusively on the Scottish employment market and based on insights from recruitment consultants, hundreds of clients and thousands of candidates. Worryingly, it shows that female placements in all financial sector roles have decreased on the previous financial year.
Quarter one in 2020/2021 saw female placements at 41%, down from 43% the previous year, while quarter two saw just 38% placement, a drop of 20% compared with 2019/2020.
Betsy is urging businesses to address head-on the challenges faced by working women before they find themselves on the brink of inadvertently pushing waves of women out of the workforce.
Betsy, said: “Another issue is the transferral of issues faced in the traditional office environment into the digital world, with more serious consequences for women.
“At the risk of generalisation, women are inherently different to men, operating and conducting themselves differently in the workplace.
“Prior research has shown that men’s networks benefit from tighter, more personal ties with work colleagues, while women’s relationships with co-workers tend to be less close and more transactional.
“We have found women’s linguistic behaviours are steered towards their desire to be likeable, while men lean towards a more authoritarian stance.
“With this in mind, employers have to ensure women’s ideas and contributions aren’t side-lined by louder, more aggressive approaches when making key decisions – especially in a virtual setting.
“By not facilitating these needs, employers run the risk of reinforcing pre-existing cultural and behavioural bias which the financial sector has worked increasingly hard to progress from.”
Core-Asset Consulting is Scotland’s pre-eminent recruitment and headhunting agency dedicated to financial and professional services.
Formed in 2005, it was born out of Betsy’s desire to take the best of her experience of large corporate recruiters, applying the focus on infrastructure and training to a more sector-specialised business.
Based in Edinburgh, the £14m firm employs 22 people and works across the entire financial services sector, from the smallest boutiques to the biggest global players.
Initially the firm carved its reputation in Scotland’s globally-renowned asset management sector. However, the success of its model allowed it to expand across the wider financial services market. It now boasts dedicated accounting, investment operations and finance teams and also works in Scotland’s thriving legal sector.
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