What things are within the control of women to make positive gender diversity changes in the financial services industry? The industry reacts 

by | Mar 8, 2024

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As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, IFA Magazine is proud to be shining the spotlight on so many of the inspirational women working in financial services with our special focus on the role of “Women in Finance”. 

Those readers (like me) who are old enough to remember the 1980s, might well remember that Annie Lennox and The Eurythmix told us “Sisters are doin’ it for themselves”. 

But can they really? I reckon we can all agree that transformational cultural change towards greater diversity and inclusion requires the involvement and engagement of everyone involved. However the team here at IFA Magazine wondered if there were any particular actions which women actively involved in the sector suggest could be done in order to boost gender diversity for the benefit of everyone involved? 

 
 

From what we’ve heard today, there are many practical ways that might just play a part, as you can see from the following comments: 

Sandhuni Correa, management accountant at WHEB Asset Management said: “Women in senior leadership roles have the biggest and best opportunity to facilitate positive change within organizations. They can provide support and mentorship to female colleagues in more junior positions to give them the support and confidence to make progress in their careers. 

“These leaders can also facilitate and support networking events for women to encourage them to consider a career in financial services and make progress to more senior positions if they are already in the sector. Women can be reassured that as an industry, financial services, values their involvement and contribution. They can also be made aware of opportunities for career progression around family and childcare commitments which are likely to be relevant to a large proportion of the female workforce.” 

 
 

Romany Youell, financial adviser at NeedingAdvice.co.uk, said: “I think women advisers must support and encourage each other. We can also help make others aware of the various routes they can use to enter the industry. 

“For women new to the industry, I encourage you to keep learning and growing, and your confidence will build gradually. It can be difficult if you have no other females around you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re looking for support or advice. 

“Not only is there an advice gap, but there is also a gender pension gap. On average, women in their 20s are on course to retire with £100,000 less in their pension pot than a man of the same age, according to a Scottish Widows report in 2020. 

 
 

“I am on a journey to help close the gender pension gap, and as advisers, we need to encourage women to plan and save for their retirement at the same level as men.” 

Rose St Louis is a Protection Director for Lloyds Banking Group said: “As an industry we create a great and exciting space to work in for both women and men. What’s also positive, is that we all recognise that more needs to be done to continue increasing greater diversity among women in our sector. But I believe that gender diversity is not a female problem. 

“Women sharing their stories of success in the face of adversity are powerful, however, women talking to other women about issues that impact women is like having a very important conversation in an echo chamber. I don’t know any female who volunteered to be paid less or promoted slowly, therefore this challenge should not be on us alone to solve. In the workplace, the tone is set at the top and leadership have a responsibility to create a culture where everyone can thrive. 

 
 

“Given most of the people in senior leadership position are men, they have a responsible to get involved and I see an increasing number of men stepping into the gender diversity conversation remodelling allyship – thanks gents! But equally, I still see many male leaders out there keeping their heads down hoping this gender thing passes them by and becomes someone else’s problem.” 

Donna Bourne, financial planner at Bourne Financial Options, said: “The support and encouragement for women in the financial services industry is already there. 

“Having more women in financial services will contribute to a much-needed balance for both clients and those already working in the industry, offering a completely different perspective. 

 
 

“I believe one of my biggest assets coming into financial services is that I am female. Despite having limited experience and being newly qualified, I was given the opportunity to make it work. A year later, I thoroughly enjoy my job and with the support I’ve received, I am prepared for the challenges ahead.” 

Laura Grenier, director of operations at WHEB Asset Management said: “Role models and mentors are incredibly important to shape the future pipeline of female talent, to encourage confidence and support each other in undertaking our roles, as well as promoting changes to workplace environments to further foster change in working patterns, for example embracing and exploiting technology to support flexible working.”

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