alison houghton corfield

'I could probably write a book [on] the sexist behaviour I've witnessed over the years'

After almost 25 years in the finance industry, it's only recently that I've seen the positive wind of change towards women in finance.

To say it was a complete ‘boys’ club’ is an understatement; women just upset the dynamic. In the words of a lot of the boys, "They are too emotional and would probably want time off to have children.” 

I remember a director getting caught drink driving. Was he sacked? No. They got him a chauffeur until his driving ban was up, because he was one of the boys.

I was also overlooked for a promotion due to the majority of business deals being closed on the golf course and I didn't play golf. Pitiful excuse!

The worst I experienced was a few years ago at an industry event when the owner of a widely recognised industry provider wanted more beer and proceeded to ask the table, "Where's the b**** with the bucket? I want some more beers." He was referring to the lovely young girl who was providing table service. All the men laughed. I was furious. When she did bring the drinks, he proceeded to grope her. It turned my stomach and we swiftly severed our connections with that company.

I could probably write a book [on] the sexist behaviour I've witnessed over the years. Thankfully, this behaviour is changing — but it's still out there.

Women are strong and can bring a whole new dynamic to the industry; the majority are naturally empathetic and non-aggressive, but that's not to say men aren't — it's often more prominent in women and it makes for a more balanced leadership team.

I've always questioned the status quo. I am wired to make logical sense of things. This has often been met with disdain and that I should learn to do what I'm told. 

We need to embrace change to attract more women. My advice to women looking to pursue a career in the industry is to check the culture of the company. Are there women in leadership positions? Are their social media posts female friendly? Do they understand the fantastic qualities women can bring? Are they a diverse and inclusive business? 

There are some fantastic businesses within the industry and I am really proud and privileged to be part of one. Alas, there are still too many who need a culture change in terms of women.

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