Women across New Zealand and Australia perceive their career advancement as a low priority in the organisations they work for, according to research conducted by the Bank of New Zealand and Financial Services Institute of Australasia.

The research, which interviewed more than 1000 financial industry professionals in New Zealand and Australia, found about 69 per cent of women were not convinced about the transparency of their organisation when it came to remuneration systems and pay parity between genders, while 36 per cent of women maintained they were treated differently to their male co-workers.

"Women respondents overwhelmingly reported that their experience of the workforce is different to men in that they are disadvantaged in relation to promotional opportunities, treatment in meetings, training and development opportunities, pay and benefits and inclusion in social and other work-related activities," said Russell Thomas, chief executive at Finsia.

"While this may seem like a trivial point, access to senior managers often takes place in informal settings and unless women are present they miss out on opportunities their male colleagues take for granted."


The research highlighted a disparity between genders, with about 64 per cent of males agreeing that the promotion of women into senior roles was a workplace priority, compared to 48 per cent of females.

Over one-third of males said more flexible work hours would help increase the number of women in senior roles, compared to 44 per cent of women.

The findings have prompted the launch of Women in Financial Services Forum, a new industry partnership involving Finsia and the Bank of New Zealand, designed to increase the representation of women in the financial services industry.

"The target is having more women in senior, middle and executive roles in the banking sector," Thomas said. "Both men and women are hearing the talk, but there is uncertainty among women about whether this has translated into real action."

Russell maintained the forum sought to "yield a richer understanding" of diversity policies, not to encourage the selection of employees based on diversity rather than talent.

The New Zealand stock exchange is already seeking feedback from its members on a proposal to include gender diversity are part of its annual reporting. If accepted, members will be required to disclose the gender composition of their boards and senior management teams and provide information on their diversity policies.

Women currently hold about 9 per cent of private sector directorships in New Zealand.

The majority of NZX 100 companies have no female directors, while women account for 21 per cent of management positions reporting directly to chief executmore