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Evolving towards equality: Women are taking their rightful place in the workplace

Evolving towards equality: women are taking their rightful place in the workplace

Over the last two years, the world has lived through the worst health crisis of the century so far, which has disrupted our economies and societies and fundamentally changed the way we live. Throughout all this, women have played a vital role: in hospitals, at home and on the political world stage.

2022 has seen global tensions rise, bringing increased volatility and uncertainty. And yet, today more than ever, working together is key to building a strong, inclusive and sustainable future.

Hear from our experts Nadine Mottu, Senior Private Banker and Head of Grandes Familles Internationales at Lombard Odier, and Ebba Lepage, our Head of Corporate Sustainability, on how finance has changed, where progress has been achieved, and what employers need to know in working towards gender equality.

2022 has seen global tensions rise, bringing increased volatility and uncertainty. And yet, today more than ever, working together is key to building a strong, inclusive, and sustainable future

How has the role of women in finance evolved over the last 10 years?

Nadine Mottu: I think that the role of women in finance has evolved on different levels over the past decade as their global share of wealth has increased. There are significantly more female clients in finance today, and they come from a number of different backgrounds.

Women now have a significantly better representation amongst our clients. Some have set up their own successful businesses, while others have inherited sizeable assets. We see more and more women becoming increasingly involved in the management of their family’s wealth as a spouse, mother, or daughter.

Female bankers are often closer to their clients, and may have a different approach that complements their pure financial skills. They can often be more emotionally intelligent, which is important when interacting with clients or even as a manager today. The importance of soft skills is a growing trend where women are in a position to thrive.

Has Covid impacted the move towards gender equality at Lombard Odier?

Ebba Lepage: Pre-Covid, working from home posed challenges in private banking, as the sector is traditionally a ‘face-to-face’ environment for both clients and colleagues. However, one of the by-products of Covid is that we have seen progress in this regard. Even though our business still very much relies on human interaction, we made changes to ensure that all employees—especially women—can prosper, no matter their personal situation.

Nadine Mottu: Covid-19 has certainly improved flexibility for both women and men. I have been a member of the Gender Committee at Lombard Odier since 2016, and it was difficult to improve working-from-home conditions. Thanks to Covid, we have made some progress for everybody in this respect.

 

A sustainable future means all of society working together. How can we include more women in the workforce? And why is this important? 

Nadine Mottu: In order to integrate more women in the workplace, a strong commitment from senior management is imperative, and you need a clear strategy on how to support and integrate more women. Furthermore, you have to adapt this strategy depending on the woman’s life stage. For example, a young mother may need more flexibility, especially when her children are very young. Last but not least, you need to understand the figures and monitor them closely. It goes without saying that a mixed team comprised of men and women presents a much stronger front in an increasingly competitive environment.

It goes without saying that a mixed team comprised of men and women presents a much stronger front in an increasingly competitive environment

Have female clients changed in the past decade in regards to their needs and wants? 

Nadine Mottu: The major change we have seen is that we interact with more and more women in the financial industry. We see more female clients acting as decision makers. And not just as investors, but also as client advisors, lawyers, consultants, or managers of family offices. Female clients are just as well informed as male clients. Our client approach tends to differ based more on nationality or culture as opposed to gender.

 

Women tend to invest more in women. How do you see that at Lombard Odier?

Nadine Mottu: Women appreciate working with someone who is able to listen to them and deliver the best possible service. Female bankers often have excellent listening skills and relate well to female clients who may have had similar life experiences and challenges. This is also a differentiating factor, because there are still not enough women in front office. To be clear, this doesn’t preclude male bankers from serving female clients! There is also a great opportunity for male bankers to win more female clients if they listen to them and deliver the best service possible according to their needs.

Read also: Why women should invest in women

 

Are the interests of female investors different from male investors? And does Lombard Odier have a women-oriented approach?

Nadine Mottu: I think that women and men have the same core needs and interests when it comes to investing – to preserve and prudently grow their wealth. In my experience, women seem more inclined towards sustainable investing. Lombard Odier has set up some women-oriented events. Furthermore, our International Families team has dedicated and experienced bankers who focus on a global and bespoke service over the long term for a limited number of families. We do not have a different strategy depending on the gender of the client. We focus on the long term, and we like to set up a professional team around each family. Of course, within this team, we take care to have a positive gender diversity.

Thanks to our Managing Partners, we have a strong commitment to supporting gender diversity

Tell us about the gender programme at Lombard Odier.

Nadine Mottu: Thanks to our Managing Partners, we have a strong commitment to supporting gender diversity. Using a tailored strategy, in line with HR and under the supervision of two of our Managing Partners, we publish clear figures about gender evolution in our workplace over time. We focus on talent and career management, with a transparent nomination process and a strategy to support young talent. There are also new guidelines on working from home and work flexibility. We are proud to have launched our Women Leadership Programme, which aims to help develop management skills and support careers within Lombard Odier.

 

Our B Corp certification asks us to be transparent on our gender pay gap and detail what we do to be more diversified and inclusive. Tell us how Lombard Odier does this.

Ebba Lepage: We have been proactive in ensuring that Lombard Odier continues to be an attractive place to work for women in all stages of their career. Our gender pay gap analysis in 2021 was highly encouraging in that it showed no significant or any unexplained pay gaps within the bank, confirming our commitment to the equal treatment of men and women.

Lombard Odier is EDGE certified. This is the leading global certification standard for gender equality. We have been certified since 2014 and in 2021 we were awarded a higher level of certification that recognises our progress in offering equal opportunities in the workplace.

We have a high retention rate after maternity leave and, in Switzerland, we offer a longer paternity leave than the legal requirement.

The gender pay gap is a global problem. The World Bank estimates that, on a global scale, women are paid 77% of a man’s salary for equal work. 

Read also: “Our employees are proud of our B Corp certification” an interview with Ebba Lepage, our Head of Corporate Sustainability

 

The World Bank has calculated that the gender pay gap costs the global economy $160tn and that countries are losing 14% of their wealth simply because of gender inequality. What do you think?

Ebba Lepage: The gender pay gap is a global problem. The World Bank estimates that, on a global scale, women are paid 77% of a man’s salary for equal work. Not only is this unfair and discriminatory, the implicit statement that women’s work has a lower value than men’s ensures that top-performing women leave companies with these types of pay structures. In countries or industries where it is harder for women to find an employer who pays fairly, the view that women are worth less than men is perpetuated. Furthermore, it sometimes forces women to hold down two jobs to feed their families, which has repercussions on their children, their family, and society.

Important information

This document is issued by Bank Lombard Odier & Co Ltd or an entity of the Group (hereinafter “Lombard Odier”). It is not intended for distribution, publication, or use in any jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, or use would be unlawful, nor is it aimed at any person or entity to whom it would be unlawful to address such a document. This document was not prepared by the Financial Research Department of Lombard Odier.

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