Why are females underrepresented in the position of rural manager at ASB Bank Limited.

Executive Summary

Why are females underrepresented in the role of Rural Manager at ASB Bank Limited? In what has traditionally been a male dominated industry, more and more females are occupying Rural Manager roles with ASB competitors. The other divisions within ASB also have a high number of females and there is a large number of female branch and commercial managers at ASB. This report aimed to gain more of an understanding of why there is a very small number of female Rural Managers at ASB.

In September 2015 personal interviews were carried out with Six ex ASB female Rural Managers. The interviews where either carried out face to face or over the phone. The interviewees were very forth coming with information about their time with ASB. There were consistent themes from the majority of the interviews, the main ones being; 1. They didn’t enjoy the contestant sales focus and drive to bring on new to bank clients; 2. They felt like the minority, with a limited number of other female Rural Mangers to cross pollinate ideas with; 3. They were disappointed at the lack of a specific female Rural Manager uniform; 4. They felt that there was a lack of support from the Regional Manager level of the business.

In September 2015 personal interviews were carried out with 10 farmers from a range of industries and age demographics. All interviews were carried out face to face. There were consistent themes from each of the farmer interview;

  1. The farmers didn’t have an issue with the gender of their Rural Manager.
  2. The Rural Managers need to be confident in what they are doing.
  3. The Rural Managers need to have a good under standing of production systems.
  4. The Rural Managers need to have a good understanding of the relevant topical issues facing the industry and to also have a personal opinion on the issues.

A large array of data was sourced from the Human Resources Department of ASB, in-order to gain an understanding of the gender breakdown of the current Rural Division, and also around the gender breakdown of the candidates who applied for roles of Rural Manager at ASB. With the ASB Rural graduate program, on average over the last three years ( 2014 , 2015, 2016 ), 40% of candidates who reach the assessment centre part of the application process are female, only 18% of the successfully hired candidates are female. All of the graduates that have been spoken to felt that the assessment centre process was a fair process for selection of graduates.

The new hire data was also assessed for a gender breakdown. The data shows that for the period from 10/01/2010 until 30/9/15, there have been 37 new hires into the Rural Manager role. Females made up 21% of the applicant’s and 11% of the new hires. At the time of writing, all but 1 of the females employed into the Rural Manager role have now have now left the bank.

Discussion was applied to the above topics and some conclusions were reached.

Four recommendations have been made as a result of this project. They are;

  1. Continue to employ the best person for the role, regardless of gender.
  2. Invest more time in coaching females in the sales side of t he Rural Manager role. The bank has a great opportunity to work with the females existing strengths (organised, attention to detail) that females offer to the business, and nurture their sales abilities.
  3. Have an ASB Rural Uniform specifically for the female Rural Managers. Don’t just modify a male’s uniform to kind of fit a female. They have earned the right to be in the role of Rural Manager. Recognise that by making available a female Rural Manager specific uniform. Involve women in designing the new uniform.
  4. Put in place a mentoring program for female Rural Managers. There are a number of experienced females in the Rural business. Put a formal mentoring program in place to support them, as they are a minority.

Why are females underrepresented in the position of Rural Manager at ASB Bank Limited? – Brad Saxton

Our programmes work in partnership with some of New Zealand’s leading agribusiness organisations – click here for more.​