Mazars: Central banks make slow progress on gender diversity

Central banks and other official financial institutions are implementing measures to improve gender diversity within their ranks, but still count too few women in senior roles. 

The OMFIF Gender Balance Index tracks the presence of men and women in senior positions at central banks, sovereign funds and public pension funds. The study, now in its seventh year, scores and ranks institutions based on gender balance in their management and boards. 

Spain tops the central banks index, followed by Aruba, Iceland and Malaysia. Asia Pacific’s score improves the most, and Europe remains the best-performing region. The central banks global score remains disappointing at 27.5, but increases 11% from 24.8 in 2019. This is the second consecutive year of improvement from 19.4 in 2018. A score of 100 means perfect balance. 


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Out of 173 central banks, one-fifth have no women in senior positions or monetary policy committees. More than half of these are in the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Only 14 central banks globally are headed by a woman, including the European Central Bank led by Christine Lagarde, its first female president.

“It is encouraging that more women are progressing within central banks and that diversity is being legitimised as a valuable and necessary consideration in recruitment,” says Danae Kyriakopoulou, Chief Economist and Director of Research. “There is wider acceptance of the benefits of diversity, and that’s progress. But there is a lot more still to do. As our survey shows, central banks are only beginning to put in place policies to actively level the playing field for those who have faced barriers to enter and progress, and there are still huge differences from country to country.”

Sovereign funds’ management and boards remain very imbalanced, although they show improvement similar to central banks. The overall score increases marginally by 8% to 19.5 from 16.8. Only eight out of 72 funds are headed by women, unchanged from last year. North America is the best-performing region, but lowest-scoring Middle East makes the biggest leap.

European public pension funds perform the best and improve the most among the three institution types. The overall score climbs by 12% to 46.3 from 41.3 the previous year. The number of female-led funds rose to 36 from 31. Nordic countries did well, with Iceland and Norway topping the list.

Global survey delves into central bank diversity policies

To complement the index, OMFIF conducted a global survey of 46 institutions consisting of 44 central banks and two multilateral organisations with functions related to financial stability. The first of its kind, this survey asked what measures institutions have in place to help correct gender imbalance and promote diversity and inclusion.

It found that 15% of central banks reserve seats for women on their board of directors or monetary policy board. More than half (54%) of central banks have implemented a gender diversity programme that encourages the upward progression of women. For some respondents, this includes mentorship and leadership training specifically for women.

Emmanuel Dooseman, Partner, Global Head of Banking at Mazars says, “The Index shows that gender balance in central banks is increasing, but there is still a huge amount of work to be done. As regulators and supervisors of other financial institutions, central banks play a crucial role in shaping the future direction of the global business landscape. That’s why we hope the Index acts as a wake-up call for leaders: they need to do more to create and implement progressive policies that support women at work.”

All respondents have some form of maternity leave in place, with 35% going above and beyond the minimum legal requirement. The majority of respondents (63%) offer between three to six months of paid leave. Almost all respondents have a paternity policy in place, but nearly half (41%) grant only one to two weeks of leave.

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