The wage gap is consequent to women's difficulty in accessing top management positions, although they sometimes outnumber their male counterparts and are many times over the majority at low or middle-management levels.
Statistics illustrate the gender-based discrepancy in salaries. For instance, there were 55,000 women in the financial intermediation business in 2005, and only 30,000 men. The ratio was almost of two women to one man, according to the INS. However, in salaries the scales tilt in the opposite direction.
“The average monthly gross income of men working in financial or banking institutions was RON 3,701 (EUR 1,138) at the end of 2005, while women earned gross wages of RON 2,957 (EUR 909),” said Cornelia Simon, spokesperson for the INS.
The gap does not necessarily come from discrepancies between what people occupying the same position are paid. Banking is a result-oriented industry, where performance weighs more than gender.
“In Banca Transilvania, salaries are highly correlated with performance. It is not important if we are talking about female employees or male employees,” said General Manager Robert C. Rekkers.
The compensation gap comes rather from the fact that less women get to the top of the professional hierarchy, which lowers their general salary average.
“Men's average income is approximately 50 percent bigger than women's. The main reason behind it is the difference between the number of male managers and female managers,” said Anneliese Anghel, Human Resources Manager with OTP Bank Romania. “One of men's important pluses is that they know and are able to negotiate their packages better than women,” she said. Women must find a way to make their way to the top, which is not an easy task.
“Once a woman gets in a position, she gets what the position gives. I have made decisions on salaries for the last 17 years and I did not feel that there was any discrimination,” said Gabriela Tudor, former vice president of CEC.
Anghel remained skeptical. “I believe that the same trend we noticed so far will continue to stay in place: men will have easier access to management positions. Banks are still closed territories, mostly reserved to them,” the OTP manager said.
“How many local banks have a woman as a CEO? There are very few compared to the number of lenders, which is continuously growing,” she added.
In fact, there is only one female executive manager among the top ten lenders, Manuela Plapcianu, head of Bancpost. Before Plapcianu got this position at the beginning of the year, CEO offices in big local banks were without women. Before her, Elena Petculescu, founder of Bancpost, held the main management position in the bank until April 2005. At this moment, she continues to be active in the bank as honorary president. Aside from them, examples of female CEOs of big banks in the post-communist period are scarce.
This unbalanced state of affairs is rather baffling if we consider that women form the majority in local banks many times over.
Roughly 75 percent of the staff at Raiffeisen Bank is represented by women, said Adriana Diaconu, Human Resources manager. Things were the same at the end of 2006, but there are some slight differences between the general run of things and the situation at the headquarters.
“Within the central administration, things are a bit different. Women represent some 65 percent of the staff and men 35 percent,” said Diaconu.
Women generally prevail over men, but that does not mean that the ratio remains unchanged when it comes to the banks' headquarters or the management seats.
At OTP Romania, the general ratio is almost 2 to 1 in favor of women. “In January 2006, there were 66 percent women and 34 percent men, while in May 2007, we have 68 percent women and 32 percent men,” said Anghel.
However, at the headquarters, 23 women function as managers, while 35 men occupy the same position. “For the entire OTP Bank Romania network, there are 59 female managers – 10 percent of their total number – and 71 male managers – 25 percent of the total,” said Anghel.
“At Banca Transilvania, more than 73 percent of the more than 5,000 employees are women and the ratio has been steady throughout recent years,” said Nevenca Doca, Human Resources Manager.
In BT's case, the proportion has been transposed almost entirely at management level.
“Of the total 154 managers – executives and deputy managers – 97 are women, which represents almost two-thirds of the total,” she added. Female managers are dominant within Raiffeisen Bank as well.
“More than 400 women are managers within Raiffeisen – top management and middle management – and almost 300 men occupy the same position,” said Diaconu.
One discrepancy is found in the number of women managing branches. Banca Transilvania has a total of 53 branches, 14 of which are run by women which is close to a quarter, said the BT HR manager. “I must underline that some of the female branch managers occupy regional manager positions, which entails more responsibility,” she said.
The OTP HR managers painted a gray picture of women's future in banks.
“Women will probably continue to occupy as many positions as now. There will be more women in middle management and less in top management positions,” said Anghel. “My guess is that they will continue to accept more readily volume occupations that offer stability, but are also paid less,” the OTP manager added.