In celebration of this week’s International Women’s Day, Sue Whitbread talks to Brinda Kirpalani, Portfolio Manager, New Capital Global Convertible Bond Fund, about her experience as a woman working in financial services.
SW: Have you seen the environment change for women in finance since you first started out in your career? If so, how?
BK: Finance can be a challenging environment to navigate regardless of gender, and I’m happy to see that there has been progress from back in the days when you were often the only woman in the room full of men. It was very isolating and sometimes intimidating to present your views that are from a completely different perspective and experience. I’m happy to see more diversity in the meeting rooms and conferences though further improvement is needed. Another change has been a less hostile atmosphere, the days of more crude behaviour which was considered the norm and acceptable is also reduced. Brash and reckless decisions and attitudes were worshipped and even encouraged in certain financial institutions and it’s refreshing to see that those are being snubbed in favour of more thoughtful and responsible approaches.
SW: Would you encourage young women to follow in your footsteps and seek a career in financial services? If so, do you have any tips for success?
BK: The industry is an interesting, exciting, and challenging place to be filled with people from all walks of life and with access to a variety of careers depending on your interests and skill set. I would recommend it especially as it can be a strong training ground even for those who choose to move on to the financial arms at corporations, government institution, non-profit or consulting. A very cliché recommendation but sadly not frequently implemented is to seek out a mentor- either inside or outside your organization who follows your career path and one you share your goals and ambitions with. This can sometimes also be through company initiative- there are some companies that have implemented career trajectory management for their high potential employees, and a few which cater especially to women- as we navigate decisions of when to start a family and balancing the work/life balance while keeping our career ambitions and not fall off the radar. And the second is to really know and understand your strengths and areas of improvement such that you can work on the latter and have the confidence to accept new challenges which can seem overwhelming.
SW: How important is diversity and inclusion in your organisation/experience? What benefits does it bring to the business?
BK: I am not aware of specific initiatives besides the EFGWN which was launched last year. However, from the diversity I have seen (in my short 2 years starting during COVID) at the offices in London speaks to the value EFG places on hiring people from all backgrounds and cultures.
SW: How can we ensure that more women are attracted to – and stick with – careers in financial services?
BK: A lot of progress has been made in this area which is heartening. The silver lining – if one can use that term – of COVID has been businesses realizing that employees can be just as efficient if not home working from home. Companies should look to maintain or enhance the hybrid work environment: allowing flexibility especially to those who need with young kids or who are caregivers- it can relieve a huge point of stress. Another would be guiding employees, allowing them to see a career path from a position/responsibility to another – as I alluded above – with precise milestones which can allow them to gain a promotion would be attractive.