Deloitte’s Within Reach series on women in financial services found that among the most senior roles across the globe within financial services institutions, women held 21% of board seats, 19% of C-suite roles, and 5% of CEO positions in 2021.
While much progress has been made in recent years, there is still much work to be done. Firms need to review and evaluate how they plan to advance women in leadership across their organisations.
Empowering gender diversity
I think it’s safe to say that women hold the potential to unlock many of the complexities the sector faces as it tries to evolve into the future world of professional services.
Research has shown that gender diversity in the workplace can have numerous benefits, including increased innovation, better decision making, and improved financial performance.
However, there are still challenges faced by women in the profession:
- A severe lack of personal belief and confidence that they have so much to add and deserve to be heard
- Ever increasing family and personal responsibilities and lack of work-life balance
- An often unattainable set of standards that they set for themselves.
- A belief that they have to bring their ‘male’ masculinity into the workplace - which is simply not true!
- A shortage of inspiring role models and mentors
- Gender bias and discrimination caused by a general lack of understanding and care within the sector
- Unequal pay and limited opportunities for advancement
If we want to create a more diverse and inclusive financial services industry, we must take action to encourage more women to pursue careers in this field.
Here are some steps we must take:
- Provide mentorship and networking opportunities for women in finance
- Address and eliminate gender bias and discrimination in the workplace
- Offer flexible work arrangements to support work-life balance
- Ensure equal pay and opportunities for advancement for women in finance
- Highlight successful women in finance and provide visibility of their accomplishments
One of the biggest and most important steps that every female must take within their role, regardless of the size of their firm or organisation, is to believe in herself!
My journey in the sector started nearly 25 years ago. I believe my success has been supported by the confidence and self-belief that I continue to have in my own abilities and skills and despite many setbacks and moments when that confidence has taken a hit – I've never faulted on the fact that as a female, I bring a whole range of ‘differences’ to my clients and a global profession that craves so much more diversity than it currently has.
Have and own the confidence to lean in, put yourself forward, speak out and share your opinions and views that you know deep down, will add a tremendous amount of value to all who hears them.
We need more balance
In my view, this is the single most important quality that will unlock our potential as a sector.
There are many success stories of women in financial services who have overcome the challenges of working in a male-dominated industry.
Dawn Patrick, a successful financial adviser, struggled to find the right role after having children, but she now supports other women entering the sector and loves changing people's lives.
Women like Dawn, along with many others, serve as role models for aspiring women in financial services and demonstrate that success in this field is possible with hard work, perseverance, and determination.
Despite the success stories, I’ve seen many amazing women walk away from jobs that they’ve loved, because they simply couldn’t do it all and when they tried, the organisation that should have supported them failed to create the environment that would allow them (and most probably many others in their business) to thrive.
If businesses want to improve performance, increase innovation, and promote economic equality, they need to take steps to encourage and equip more women to flourish - before it's too late.
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