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Equal Opportunities for Women in Management Positions

Info: 5414 words (22 pages) Dissertation
Published: 12th Dec 2019

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Tagged: ManagementEquality

Women in Management

This paper looks at the issue of women in management within the financial services sector, focusing on high street banks in the United Kingdom, in the context of addressing the issue of gender discrimination within top management. This is done by looking at past and present published papers that revolve around the subject matter under a theoretical hypothesis. The theoretical hypothesis, which is based on published material on women in management, is used to explain the issues surrounding women in management. Three high street banks were assessed as case studies to identify the issue of gender discrimination within UK banks. The outcomes are also categorised under specific themes. Finally a critical review of matches and mismatches is used to compare and contrast similarities between the theoretical hypothesis and the empirical evidence gathered for this paper.

Chapter 1: The Concept of Women In Management

Since the end of the Second World War, organisations all over the world have been slow to recognize the importance of women in the development and building of strong solid leadership from within. This has raised serious issues with regard to top management particularly within the financial services sectors, being male dominated, not allowing women into positions of authority, or top management.

Although, organisations all over the world have moved on since then, and there have been positive results so far in today’s modern day society, however the relative percentage of women in relation to men in top management positions still remains unsolved. In the United Kingdom, certain sectors seem to have made substantial progress with regard to addressing these issues, e.g. the financial sectors, and the health and social services. However, this is not the case across the whole spectrum of job sectors. E.g. the military, production services, distribution, Information and communication technology, and agriculture.

Aims and Objectives

The aim of this paper is to address the issue of top management, which is predominantly male dominated, within the financial services sector allowing and encouraging women to progress into management positions in their field of expertise. I.e. Understanding the problems associated with women breaking through the glass ceiling into top management within the financial services sector.

The objective of this research is to first provide a detailed analysis of the theoretical aspects that women face when it comes to stepping into management positions within banks in the United Kingdom. Secondly, to understand the processes and mechanisms that are inherent within financial organisations that slowdown the pace of women into management positions. Thirdly, to highlight the issue of gender discrimination associated with the latter mentioned. Lastly, I will critically appraise the validity of published material so far covering women in management in the context of equal opportunity policies and flexible work patterns.

Chapter 2: Existing Literature Reviewed

Over the past 50 years gender inequalities i.e. women in management, particularly within the UK banking sector has been the subject of bureaucratic scrutiny to a certain degree. For example Crompton (1989)states that UK banks have increasingly become the major employers of female labour. However, women in banks have not historically had the same career opportunities as men, for a variety of reasons, ranging from deliberate male exclusion practices to the broken and often short-term nature of many women’s work histories.

Additionally, the contrast between the experiences of men and women in the same occupation is used to question the conventional view of occupational class analysis, where the (male) occupational structure is treated as if it were the class structure. Rutherford’s (1999) case study of banking, also illustrates how the discourses of gendered biological and psychological difference might be used to justify the scarcity of women in management grades and in so doing reproduce the status quo of male domination.

After all, if women were not suited to management in banking what would be the point of creating policies to attempt to improve their representation there? Thus jobs become infused with stereotyped characteristics, which are believed to be linked to gender, race (Liff and Dickens, 2000) and to some extent age. Alvesson and Billing (1997) talks about the pressures for homogeneity and cultural competent behaviour. This involves individuals, consciously or unconsciously, conforming and adapting to organisational norms in order to fit in or progress their careers, for example by adopting the expected and desired language, work style, appearance and so on.

The demand for cultural competence reinforces and reproduces the dominant, from which those who do not comply, or conform, remain excluded. Collin son (1990) argues about the cultural assumptions underlying male manager’s stereotypes of male and female attributes. He states that when evaluating male candidates, involvement in sport was a definite advantage, whereas females sporting achievements we reread as indicative of a very narrow existence. Another example was behaviour of men which was described as ‘pushy’ when exhibited by female candidate and as ‘showing initiative’ when a male candidate was involved.

Thus women were less likely to be recruited to what were viewed as gender-incongruent jobs. It must also be recognised that policy approaches, which focus on certain groups of employees most typically women and ethnic minorities, tend to engender employee resentment (Cockburn, 1991; Miller and Rowney, 1999). Webb (1997) adds that ironically the radical feminist agenda, which asserts women’s differences from men and their potential for creating a better world, had been adapted to the concerns of liberal feminism with providing rationale for the promotion of women in management, on the grounds that women’s nurturing capacities contribute to the diversity needed by post-modern organisations.

Webb (1997) goes on to state that we need to move beyond the ultimately limiting debate about whether women are the same as or different from men to a renewed concern with the material conditions of women’s lives and with the construction of equality initiatives which address the continuing exclusion of many women from adequate standards of living. Rees (1998) argues that relative strenuous efforts to tackle discrimination and disadvantage within the organisation are hampered by structural inequalities at societal level, in particular the interrelationship between education, training and employment. The continued existence of social inequalities could be said to indicate that as a society we are not yet ready to value gender diversity, or ethnic diversity, adopting the language will not make it happen.

However, this should not be used as an excuse for organisational inertia or fatalism. Businesses have social responsibilities (one of these is to treat employees fairly) and they also have a need for social legitimacy in order to survive in the longer term (Miller and Rowney, 1999). This would point to need for organisations to value workforce diversity, irrespective of the purchase of short-term solutions. Sisson (1995) also adds that the problem with regard to women in management within the UK banking industry is that most organisations are predominantly concerned with the bottom line, short-term profitability and this orientation militates against long-term agendas.

This renders it all the more important that the retrograde step of abandoning or neglecting equal opportunity policy should be avoided. Dickens (1994) argues that there is not a business case but a series of business rationales that are contingent. Organizational and managerial receptiveness to them is uneven, and they lead to only selective action. He goes on to state that the business case ‘carrot’ shares a similar weakness to the legal compliance ‘stick’. Calls for action beyond the individual organisation in a multi-pronged approach requiring state action, in which equality legislation and business case rationales each have apart to play.

Chapter 3: Research Approach and Methodology Employed

Research Approach

The research approach will be carried out using the positivist case research approach. According to Cavite (1996), positivist epistemology tries to understand a social setting by identifying individual components of a phenomenon and explains the phenomenon in terms of constructs and relationships between constructs. The theoretical constructs describing the phenomenon are considered to be distinct from empirical reality. Hence, empirical observations can be used to test theory. This looks at the world as external and objective. Positivism employs four major research evaluation criteria: a good research should make controlled observations, should be able to be replicated should be generalizable and should use formal logic.

Under positivism, case research findings are not statistically generalizable to a population, as the case or cases cannot be considered representative of a population, however, case research can claim theoretical generalizability.

This will also include comparing, contrasting and critically evaluating past and present papers, articles, journals, and established theories that have been published on the subject matter.

Methodology Employed

Multiple-Case Study Design

This project uses the multiple case study method in order to enable analysis of data across cases and relating it to the theoretical perspectives in the available literature of Information systems strategy. This enables the researcher to verify that findings are not merely the result of idiosyncrasies of research setting (Miles andHuberman, 1984). According to Yin (1994), in such a method it is important to use: multiple sources of evidence. Due to the time constraint attached with this paper, only three case studies of Women in management within the UK banking sector were gathered. The appropriate number of cases depends, firstly, on how much is known about the phenomenon after studying a case and secondly, on how much new information is likely to emerge from studying further cases(Eisenhardt, 1997).

The paper provides three case studies of UK high street banks namely HSBC, NatWest Bank, and Lloyds TSB. Comparing and contrasting the roles of the women who are in the top management in these banks.

Qualitative Data

Cavite (1996) states that qualitative investigation refers to distilling meaning and understanding from a phenomenon and is not primarily concerned with measuring and quantification of the phenomenon. Direct and in-depth knowledge of a research setting are necessary to achieve contextual understanding. Hence, qualitative methods are associated with face-to-face contact with persons in the research setting, with verbal data being gathered.

Qualitative data can be collected in a number of forms. One major form of qualitative evidence is interviews, which may be recorded and later transcribed. Qualitative data are rich, full, holistic ‘real’ their face validity seems impeachable; they preserve chronological flow where that is important.

In spite of the above mentioned, qualitative data have weaknesses (Miles1979; Miles and Huberman, 1984). Collecting and analysing data is time-consuming and demanding. In addition, data analysis is not easy, as qualitative data analysis methods are not well established. Recognised rules of logic can be applied to verbal data in order to make sense of the evidence and to formally analyse the data.

Rubin and Rubin (1995) state that it is most desirable to disclose the identities of both the case and the individuals interviewed because,

• The reader is able to recall any other previous information he or she may have learned about the same case from previous research or other sources in reading and interpreting the case report.

• The entire case can be reviewed more readily, so that footnotes and citations can be checked, if necessary, and appropriate criticisms can be raised about the published case.

Nevertheless, there are some occasions when anonymity is necessary. The most common rationale is that when the case study has been on controversial topic, anonymity serves to protect the real case and its real participants. The second reason is that the issuance of the final case report may affect the subsequent actions of those that were studied.

In the case of this paper, the positions of the participants within the organisations interviewed are mentioned. However, anonymity is adopted to protect the Identities of the participants and the real case. Why? Because the issue of women in management within Banks in the UK has been a long standing problem, in which revealing their names could hinder future revelations on their part and their jobs.

The remainder of this paper proceeds as follows:

Chapter 4: Theoretical Hypothesis on Women in Management

Chapter 5: Empirical Analysis (Three Banks)

Chapter 6: Comparing and contrasting Theoretical Hypothesis and Empirical Analysis

Chapter 7: Summary and Conclusion.

Chapter 4: Theoretical Hypothesis of Women In Management

In order to have a clear understanding of women in management, we will first need to identify the meaning attached to this phenomenon. Since the mid 1990s, women’s representation amongst executives has doubled and amongst company directors it has tripled. At the same time there has been an overall increase in women working in management jobs. However, women still comprise less than a quarter of executives and only one in ten company directors. The ‘glass ceiling’, the situation where women can see but not reach higher level jobs and so are prevented from progressing in their careers, appears still to exist in many organisations.

This is what led to the creation of the terminology ‘women in management’. Several key factors account for the continuing low representation of women in management. Firstly, like most other occupations, there is a tendency for some types of management jobs to be associated with either women or men. For example, whilst women are comparatively well represented in personnel and the public sector, men still predominate in production management and Information and communication technology. Secondly, opportunities to work part-time are limited, with only six present of managers and senior officials employed part-time. Although it may be difficult to carry out some management functions on a part-time basis, there are still far too few opportunities for flexible working at senior levels in organisations.

With this in mind, we can now move on to discuss the theoretical perspectives of women in management.

There are several already established theoretical perspectives that have been used to gather a better understanding of this issue, however, the ones used in this paper are:

1) Issues and problems facing women reaching the top (manager)
2) Why so few women reaching the top?
3) Why are women workers still going cheap?
4) What causes the gender pay gap?
5) Have women achieved equality in the UK banking industry?

4.1 Issues and problems facing women reaching the top (manager)

Several factors account for the continuing low representation of women reaching the top. One of the key issues is that women consider family obligations and the predominance of ‘male values’ in corporate culture to be the main obstacles to career advancement for them. The nature of the obstacles blocking women’s progress to higher management varies, however, from those encountered at lower levels. Higher ranking female bank managers seem to experience discrimination to a greater extent, both on terms of structural and cultural barriers, where insufficient personal contacts and dominance of ‘male values’ adversely affect their advancement.

The difficulties women face in reaching the top is also reflected in the higher levels of education and effort often demanded of them. The hurdles facing women aspiring to management jobs can be so formidable that they sometimes abandon efforts to make it to the top of large firms. They often take their energy and know-how to smaller and more flexible companies or set up their own businesses.

Another principal constraint on the level and type of labour market participation of women is the responsibility they carry for raising children and performing household tasks. An important feature of professional and especially managerial work is the extended working hours that seem to be required to gain recognition and eventual promotion. It can be practically impossible to reconcile the long hours often required of management staff with the amount of time needed to care for a home and children, not to mention care of the elderly. Yet the availability of part-time managerial work varies across organisations. Women who desire both a family and a career often juggle heavy responsibilities in both domains. Those who opt for part-time work early in their careers may find their advancement hampered, even after a return to full-time employment, since their male counterparts will have invested heavily in career building during the same period.

4.2 Why so few women reaching the top?

Few women gain access to the highest positions as executive heads of organizations and, despite some improvements, many would claim that the pace of change is still far too slow given the large number of qualified women in the labour market today. Where figures are available (ILO data, 2002), they show women holding from 1 present to 5percent of top executive positions. While it must be acknowledged that time is still needed for women at junior and middle management levels(those in the pipeline) to move into executive positions, the fact still remains that women are not moving quickly enough nor insufficient numbers into line or strategic positions.

Yet this factories crucial for enlarging the pool of women aspiring to senior positions and for building a critical mass of senior women for networking and providing role models for those down the line. Speeding up women’s movement towards the top requires that recruitment and promotion methods be objective and fair. Above all, there has to be awareness and commitment from directors of companies as to the benefits for their organizations from promoting women to high-level managerial positions. Women seem to experience the most difficulty in obtaining executive jobs in large corporations, even though they often have greater opportunities at junior and middle management levels in these same corporations.

Another reason for this purge is the educational attainment required for top management positions. Evidence provided byte Equal opportunities Commission in the United Kingdom suggest that, in some cases women do not have the educational qualifications to get into management positions, and even when that is not the case, they still do find it hard to break into management, due to the fact that its predominantly male dominated. Another reason is that few senior women are in the so called ‘line’ positions that involve profit and loss or revenue generating responsibilities, and which are critical for advancement to the highest level. Additionally, in the United Kingdom, the share of women among financial managers rose from 11 present to 17percent in the 1980s and still increasing, although they are still outnumbered by men in top management positions in the 21st century.

4.3 Why are women workers still going cheap?

Much of women’s work has historically tended to be undervalued or unrecognized. While the United Nations system and governments are making more systematic efforts to value and account for women’s work in national statistics, research on women in management is a relatively new field and comparisons over time and across countries are limited. This is further made complicated by the range of definitions employed and the non-availability of statistics for different countries overtime. Under a report provided by the United Nations in 1996 called the Human development report, it states that ‘no society treats its women as well as men’.

A gender related development index was created to record achievements and monitor progress. This is based on life expectancy, educational attainment and income, but adjusts the latter mentioned for gender equality. They noted that life expectancy rates are positively affected by care in different forms, such as social support and social relationships. For example, unmarried adults have higher mortality rates than married ones and, according to them, children in a caring environment fare better in terms of health than those who lack this attention. It is not only the weak and sick that need care to prosper; even the healthiest of adults need a certain amount of care.

A deficit in care services not only destroys human development, but it also undermines economic growth. That these factors are overlooked has considerable implications for gender equality, as women still carry the main responsibility for care. Gender discrimination is perpetuated through the lack of value placed on women’s caring role in society. As managers, women are affected byte common assumption that in the event of building families they will bear the main burden of responsibility arising out of this. Thus, there is not the same degree of investment in women. They are less likely to receive the same encouragement or career advice through mentoring as men.

Another important factor is that in some countries equal opportunity policies tend to be established within organizations, however, in some countries they are not strictly adhered to. In the Ukase scheme known as ‘Opportunity 2000’ was launched in 2000. Its member included 300 organizations ranging from the financial services to the educational departments. They agreed to increase the number of women into management positions, and between 1994 to 2000, women’s share of management positions increased from 25 present to 35 present. Therefore, one can say although women are still going cheap in certain jobs in other parts of the world this is not the case universally.

4.4 What causes the gender pay gap?

A difference in management positions does tend to contribute to earnings differentials. Although rates of pay may be similar, actual earnings can vary because of the different salary packages offered to managers, which provide various fringe benefits and access to certain schemes for boosting bonuses. Earnings gaps may also reflect differences in seniority and concentration of women in low-paid managerial sub-groups. Additionally, certain jobs tend to be affiliated with men and to women, i.e. productions and manufacturing jobs tend to be affiliated with men, while nursing, and household jobs tend to be affiliated with women, this contributes to the pay gap between men and women.

Within the Banking sector in the United Kingdom, there has been an increase of the number of women into both middle and top management. However, the positions they tend to head are not profit-making positions or revenue generating positions, which are positions of higher pay and responsibility. They tend to be based within the retail, customer services, and bookkeeping departments, which are areas of significance to the organization, but are of less repute.

4.5 Have women achieved equality in the UK banking industry?

In the area of finance, women have certainly increased their share of management positions, although at a varying pace.
In the United Kingdom, the share of women among financial managers rose from 11 present to 17 present during the 1980’s and at the turn of the century increased to 25 present. While women have captured an ever-increasing share of the labour market, improvements in the quality of women’s jobs have not kept pace. This is reflected in the smaller representation of women in management positions, particularly in the private sector, and their virtual absence from most senior jobs, i.e. Directorships, or Presidents of Banks.

Wage differentials in male and female managerial jobs stem from the reality that even when women hold management jobs, they are often in less strategic lower-paying areas oaf company’s operations. They are also linked to the fact that women managers tend to be younger on average, as most senior jobs tend to be dominated by older men. Despite the persistent inequalities at managerial level, the continuous entry of women into higher-level jobs is being addressed; however, they still remain under-represented in senior management.

With few exceptions, the main challenge appears tube the sheer slowness in the in the progress of women into senior leadership positions in organizations, which suggests that discrimination is greatest where the most power is exercised. However, the growth in entrepreneurship and increasing numbers of women running their own businesses, both large and small, heralds a different future for societies. The economic power gained by women will play a key role in the struggle to sweep aside gender inequalities in all walks of life in which the UK banking sector is no exception.

Chapter 5: Empirical Analysis

In this chapter I present (3)case descriptions from my research on Women in management within the Banking Sector. The descriptions are organised in terms of the following headings; Continuity and Change in Women’s twentieth century in comparison to now experience, the position of women in the financial industry in general, the position of women in the UK banking sector, the changing role of women in the UK banking sector, pay differentials, women broken through glass ceiling, employment law and maternity right, and balancing work and family responsibilities. Due to the short timespan to collect data and incorporate to this paper I have been limited to three UK high street banks.

The names of the individuals interviewed are not mentioned to protect confidentiality. It must be said that there are some differences in the both the quality and quantity of data available between the cases described, but in each case there is sufficient data for comparability across the features mentioned above. Women managers or the most senior of positions with regard to women in the three high street banks are analysed to address the issue of women in management. See Appendix A for the questions used. All interviews lasted approximately 40 minutes.

5.1 Case Study 1: Natwest Bank

Continuity and Change in Women’s twentieth century in comparison to now experience

The Woman interviewed was the manager of the branch. She is responsible for 25 people in the branch. She argues that in the past there were no female managers, most women, were household wives and lacked career progression. She believes that a lot has changed over the past 20 years and that within the bank a lot of progress has been made with regard to women into management positions. Additionally, she states that there is a continuing need to have women in management positions because it depicts the bank as being an equal opportunities bank.

The position of women in the financial industry in general

She argues that they are a lot more women in Finance ministries, central banks, and banking supervisory agencies, which are among the most important political institutions with regard to the coordination and regulation of the financial system than the case maybe in the past.

The position of women in UK banking sector

She states that although there has been a huge increase in the number of women in management positions within the bank, relative to male managers, it is small percentage that are in this category compared to over 50 years ago.

The changing role of women in the UK banking sector

She believes that the role of women in the bank has changed over the years. In the past women within the bank were more concentrated in the retail department, but more and more women are going into the trading of stocks and products which are revenue generating departments within the bank.

Pay Differential

She states categorically, that she is quite happy and content with how much she is being paid and comparing herself to her male counterpart sat other branches of the bank, there isn’t a difference with regard other pay package (it’s the same).

Women broken through glass ceiling

She believes that within NatWest bank the case of women breaking through the glass ceiling is not an issue. As far as she is concerned if you have the right qualifications and attributes, you will make it through regardless of gender differences.

Employment law and Maternity right

She argues that there are policies within the bank that ensures equal opportunities for both male and female employees to get into top management. And that women are encouraged to take maternity leave if needs be, and when they are ready to come back to their previous position the job would still be there. Flexible part-time work is available for those who fall under this category she says.

Balancing work and Family

For the hours she works, it could affect family life being the manager of the branch, however, for the top directors within the bank the want staff to have a good work and family life balance. They do encourage women, if they need to go out on maternity leave and come back to their previous job.

5.2 Case Study 2: Hong-Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

Continuity and Change in Women’s twentieth century in comparison to now experience

The Woman interviewed was the branch counsellor (Customer services/accounts); she is the most senior woman (retail). She is responsible for 5 people. She argues that in the Bank there were few female managers compared to their male counterparts. Although she believes a lot has changed over the years with regard to women getting into management positions, she states that due to the lack of proper qualifications and starting a family, women have not in general been able to move into management positions.

The position of women in financial industry in general

She argues that there are not enough women in the financial industry. She acknowledges that there have been improvements but that there is still barrier.

The position of women in the UK banking sector

She believes that only the determined ones (women) get through. However, from heron knowledge of the bank, there are not a lot of women in top management positions.

The changing role of women in the UK banking sector

The branch counsellor states that when a woman says she works in a bank it would be depicted that she works as a secretary. This is due to the lack of qualifications and top management being male dominated, the role of women within the bank has remained static.

Pay Differential

She states that there are certain grades within the bank and each and every person is categorised into one of those grades. The salary band is applied in that manner. She states that for the job responsibilities, she is quite content and happy with what she is being paid, however there is still need for improvement.

Women broken through glass ceiling

She argues that there is a glass ceiling within the bank and women can only go so far. She adds that women tend to leave to have children and look after the home. Also, she says that there are gender diversity policies within the bank, but they are not adhered to from top management.

Employment law and maternity right

Within the bank there is policy that allows for part-time flexible work patterns. Legally, they have to keep the position for you, if for example you left to have baby.

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