Ageism almost as prevalent as sexism in finance industry

London Canary Wharf

Age discrimination in financial services is nearly as big a problem as gender discrimination, an eFinancialCareers survey of 1,500 finance professionals employed in the UK has found.

A quarter of all respondents (25%) report they have experienced or witnessed discrimination against age at their current employer. This compares to 29% for gender discrimination.

Of those aged between 41 and 50 years, a third (33%) have felt discouraged from applying to a position on the grounds of their age. This rises to 55% among those aged over 51, and nearly 6 in 10 (56%) would be 'very concerned' their age would be an obstacle in finding a new job. Overall, over two thirds of finance professionals (68%) agree older employees should be protected from age discrimination just like they are protected from discrimination on the basis of ethnic background, gender, or religion.

Gender discrimination, meanwhile, is still omnipresent but the gender income gap appears to have come down. Nearly three quarters of UK-based finance professionals (74%) believe gender discrimination exists in financial services - but this increased to 86% in female respondents, of whom nearly a quarter (24%) said they had experienced it personally.

While 8 in 10 (80%) believe women are equally represented at junior levels at their current employer, this drops by nearly half to just over 4 in 10 (43%) for senior level. Even more disheartening is that the majority (56%) believes the situation will remain the same. The lack of optimism is not surprising, three quarters (76%) say their company does not have explicit gender diversity targets.

Not surprising, gender discrimination is felt in both pay and career progression.

While 58% of all respondents say that men are paid more than women in equivalent financial services positions, 81% women believe this to be true. There are also two thirds (67%) of female respondents who believe men are better at negotiating a raise or promotion. This is not just perception. According to eFinancialCareers Compensation survey published earlier this year, the gender income gap in the UK financial services stands at 18%.

'Financial services needs to shed the image of being a bastion of male dominance, so it's essential for firms to have clear, established gender diversity policies in place to become a more attractive proposition for women to work in,' said eFinancialCareers managing director, James Bennett.

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