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Women in compliance: Gains overseas, but still in corporate limbo here

Women may or may not be better-suited to risk management roles as compared to men as being fully equipped for the role might have more to do with skills sets, ethical judgment and plain-vanilla experience than with anything related to gender.

But it’s true that women are occupying in growing numbers the compliance and risk management role at U.S. businesses, handling a growing arena of risk (like cyber-security and social-media communications), with resources that are often deemed by industry participants as insufficient, vis a vis the challenges they face.

The Risk Management Society reports that the UK-based Airmic Risk Management Association has seen a doubling of female membership in the last 10 years.

It makes sense: When it comes to managing risk, it is vital that every potential impact is considered — particularly those affecting a large number of clients — making women’s perspectives of great value to businesses.

Diverse risks requires diverse skills … which requires a diverse staff.

*     *     *

In some companies, women are noticeably rising to the top in management positions, but most surveys show them floundering in corporate limbo.

Grant Thornton’s 2015 International Business Report detailed some dismal news: Women in senior management comprise just 21 percent of the global corporate population, a mere 2 percent more than in 2004.

Likewise, a 2014 Catalyst study revealed that just 19.2 percent of the board seats of S&P 500 companies are held by women and 2.4 percent of Fortune 500 chief executives were female.

The United States is lagging behind most other countries.

The proportion of women in senior management in the United States paled by comparison to countries such as Russia, where 36 percent of all senior execs are women, and Thailand, which topped Grant Thornton’s survey with 45 percent of senior managers being women.

Women have the highest representation on board executive committees in the Scandinavian nations of Norway and Sweden.

A UK-based HM Treasury/Virgin Money report, based on survey results and entitled “Empowering Productivity: Harnessing the Talents of Women in Financial Services,” notes that equalizing the roles of men and women in the labor market in terms of participation and compensation could increase national GDP by 10 percent by 2030. (Author’s Note: The survey was co-sponsored by Thomson Reuters.)

That report notes how a number of international firms — Nationwide, Deutsche Bank, RBS, Lloyds of London and HSBC — have implemented programs to develop their female talent pipeline and promote and recruit more females into senior roles.

Not a bad idea considering women control $12 trillion (or 65 percent) of the $18.4 trillion in consumer discretionary spending.

*     *     *

In the next post, I’ll look at the crucial role women should play when companies set out to create diverse leadership teams.


Julie DiMauro is a regulatory intelligence expert in the Enterprise Risk division of Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence (TRRI). Follow Julie on Twitter @Julie_DiMauro and email her at [email protected].

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for providing this insight. Timely information as St. Thomas is hosting a Women in Compliance & Ethics conference on April 10th with very accomplished women in compliance and ethics roles like Jackie Rice from Target, Hui Chen from the Department of Justice, Debra Burns from UnitedHealth Group, Beth Forsythe from Dorsey & Whitney Carolyn Brue from Cargill, Pam Ziermann from Dougherty & Company. This information will be a great talking point for how far women have come but also how much farther they have to go in the corporate world.
    Colleen Dorsey @USTCompliance

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