hope capital

'When I first started my career, I felt I had to work harder and smarter to stand out'

International Women’s Day celebrates and honours the achievements of women, while also reflecting on the barriers they face.

I have been working in the financial services industry for a long time and there is no doubt that every year we are making more progress in moving away from it being a male-dominated industry. 

Diversity in the finance sector has come a long way in the past few years but is still in need of improvement — from junior roles through to the boardroom. A culture of diversity, inclusivity and equality is something all businesses must not only preserve, but continuously strive to achieve and progress. A diverse workforce encourages people to bring 100% of themselves to work to thrive and succeed, which is why all businesses should show their commitment to gender equality.

There have been many studies to show that diverse teams outperform. For example, a 2015 McKinsey report* on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns above the national industry median.

When I first started my career, I felt I had to work harder and smarter to stand out. I remember the first bank I ever worked for turned me down for their management trainee scheme because, apparently, they just assumed that a young women would be married and have children in a few years and therefore wasn’t worth investing in. So, undeterred, I left and secured a management trainee position with another organisation and have never looked back.

In my sales role for a specialist lender, it’s fair to say that I spend the majority of my time dealing with male intermediaries — and it’s not uncommon for me to be the only woman around the table. For a long time, I thought that I had to behave like a male leader, however women can bring so many positive qualities to leadership that I have learnt throughout my career. The importance of believing in your own ability and, in turn, the confidence which comes with that is key. 

For those who are looking to kick-start their career in the financial sector, my best advice is to work hard, take risks, never stop learning, and trust your own abilities. Thankfully, there are now many companies and business leaders who provide the same opportunities for women as they do men. However, improving the representation of women in financial services will only be achieved when every business ensures there are equal opportunities available.

I strive to find ways to help support and champion the movement and enjoy mentoring women in all stages of their careers. I hope that I can be a role model to my daughter and show her that anything is possible with hard work and determination.

Working for a company like Hope Capital, where 62% of the senior positions are held by women, demonstrates there are companies where everyone is provided with the same prospects to thrive.

Ultimately, if you are good at what you do, you should be recognised for it. With the recent #MeToo movement, there are now less barriers for women in the workplace. The pandemic has also shown employers how their workforce can work more flexibly. Consequemtly, there is no better time to achieve your potential.

Are you a woman in the financial services industry keen to get your voice heard? Contact [email protected] - we would love to chat!

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