Women in Finance: Figures, Facts and Feelings

In 2020, 18% of the managers in the 20 largest European banks and mortgage lenders were women. How does it affect the banking industry? That and other facts about Women in Finance are put in the spotlight this autumn as our amazing female colleagues share their views, reflections and perspectives.

Meet our Nordic CX Manager, Lena Åkerström, and be inspired about how she ended up in an industry out of her comfort zone.

What was your path into the financial industry?

I actually slipped into the industry without my intention. I have previously worked as a Brand and Marketing Manager in the Telecom, Food and Sports industry, as well as, in a number of marketing agencies and I never thought I would work in a bank. However, I saw this position as a Marketing Manager for Sweden (my first position in the company), and as I admire people who dare apply for a job out of their comfort zone, I did so. I applied.

Equally, I admire companies that have the courage to employ people for the qualities and qualifications they can bring to the company without putting too much emphasis on a candidate’s industry experience. My case was such a match, and I am glad that BNP Paribas Personal Finance saw the potential in me.


In 2020, 18% of the managers in the 20 largest European banks and mortgage lenders were women. How do you feel that it affects the industry that less than a fifth of managers are women?

I would like to rephrase this question into something more positive: What could be the positive outcome if the amount of women was higher?

What I learned from my former job experiences is that a company’s performance improve, if there is a sound gender balance.

The balance contributes to diversity, complementarity and better decision making. Women and men complement each other with different skills, perspectives, attitudes, risk taking willingness, collaboration methods and communication approaches. Even if we are individuals, you notice some general gender differences. Increased equality and inclusive culture is good for business. Inclusive teams perform better than non-inclusive teams, and diversity enables us to take different perspectives and input angles into account. Which leads to better products and services!

However, inequality is a hard nut to crack. It has been on the agenda for ages and you can find it in all industries. There is no simple remedy to that and no “one size fits all” solution. I am optimistic though. Thanks to more role models and the open platforms of today, it is easier to reach out and connect with other people compared to previously.

In the same way, women should not always see inequality as a problem. We should think more positively and see it as an opportunity, a challenge, because it also has to do with how women perceive themselves. It is not about “we” and “them”, it is about “us” and how we build the future we want together.

A 2020 survey in the financial sector shows that women at all organisation levels – from managers to new employees – express higher management ambitions than men. What do you think about that?

I think that it is interesting. There are plenty of motivated women out here, and women are done with fetching things for other people. Now we do it for ourselves.

Ambitions require a combination of hard work and dedication. My generation of women were raised to believe that we can accomplish anything, barriers do not exist, and that belief may be even more prevalent among the new generations.