Some 29% of European financial services (FS) firms are still below the 40% female representation threshold required by the European Commission’s European Women on Boards Directive, according to EY’s latest Financial Services European Boardroom Monitor.
While almost one third of companies have still failed to reach the minimum required level, which must be obtained by June 2026 in order for the firm to be compliant, the average percentage of women on FS boards across Europe currently stands at 43%.
Board appointments made over the past year have also been 43% female candidates. This is a seven percentage-point fall compared to 50% during the previous 12-month period. However, 45% of board appointments over the last six months have been to women.
Overall, less than one third of executive roles have been allocated to women across financial services boards in Europe. Female board members are also less likely to hold – or to have previously held – C-suite positions at 52%, compared to 64% for male board members. This is a one percentage-point improvement compared to data collated over the previous 12 months, however, which found 51% of women have or had held C-suite roles.
Omar Ali, EY EMEIA financial services managing partner, said European financial services firms have “made great strides” in increasing the number of women in senior leadership roles given boardrooms have now, on average, surpassed 40% representation. However, he added there is “still progress to be made”.
“Firms are committed to developing a strong female candidate pipeline, but the data does continue to show that women at board level are still less likely than their male counterparts to hold C-Suite positions,” he said.
“Greater representation for women in executive roles is a key factor in ensuring greater equity across organisations. While bottom-up reform is essential, executive representation for women has a major impact on organisations not only in terms of driving policy but, given the visibility afforded to senior executives, in terms of shifting cultures and expectations throughout companies.”
He added: “If Europe’s financial firms continue to place urgency on gender equity, this will help to embed equal pay throughout the financial services industry in the years to come.”
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