Sadly, when it comes to the financial sector (but not only) true meritocracy fails women and ethnically diverse groups because the gender and/or ethnicity they are born with is in itself a barrier EVEN BEFORE their individual merits.
There are tons of articles on this topic, a few of which I have included in this thread, but if you even read something ike this https://www.diversitylink.co.uk/resource262/1.html it would be enough to make you see why there is an argument for engineering change through quotas, as some Scandinavian countries have done. Some people argue that quotas belittle women and/or ethnic groups, as though they were incapable of successfully getting to the top without a helping hand; others feel that until you rely on the goodwill of, say, the financial companies in the FTSE100 to ‘do their bit’ for diversity within their (mostly) white/male boards, then nothing much will be achieved beyond some well-meaning gestures and promises to do more.
The FT brought out a special edition a couple of years ago called ‘S e x and the City’, which investigated the improving but overall still incredibly women-negative environment in London’s financial sector…
We all know that there IS a problem: coming to a solution is the question.