MELBOURNE, AAP – Men and women working in financial services may as well be on Venus and Mars when it comes to gender pay equality, such is the space between their perception of the issue.

A report released by Financial Services Institute of Australia (FINSIA) on Wednesday found that men and women are out of step with each other on issues of gender inequality.

It reveals that on many issues there is a pronounced gap between male and female perceptions of the underlying problems driving gender inequality.

This is particularly true with 25 per cent of men surveyed believing the gender pay gap was grossly exaggerated, compared to just three per cent of women.

Despite the perception, financial and insurance services remains the industry with the largest gender pay gap, according to Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

FINSIA Diversity Advisory Council Chair Linda Maniaci said the survey highlighted the need for more concerted action, with a focus on more sponsorship of females into leadership opportunities.

“We all need to work harder to challenge unconscious bias and myths regarding merit,” Ms Maniaci said.

“It is also clearly worrying that the financial services industry lags so far behind every other industry when it comes to inequality over pay.”

More than half of women involved in the study said they had occasionally experienced, or known someone to experience harassment and or sexism in the workplace.

FINSIA CEO Chris Whitehead said they were concerning figures.

“It is alarming to see from the results that financial services is not immune to sexism and sexual harassment,” he said,

He has since called for an industry roundtable to take place before the end of the year to discuss the results of the survey and take proactive steps to address the issues.

Key findings:

* There are still significant gaps in perception regarding the current state of play when it comes to gender inequality in financial organisations.

* Women are much less likely than men to agree that employers are committed to advancement of women in practice.

* Men and women have vastly different views on pay transparency with 58 per cent of men believing organisations are transparent, compared to 18 per cent of women.

* More than half of women surveyed and 29 per cent of men surveyed experienced or know someone who experienced sexual harassment or sexism in the workplace.