Watts Commercial Finance

Why 'imposter syndrome' is a common issue among women and individuals from ethnic minorities

I recently had my biggest achievement to date in my career when I made it into the 2022 B&C Magazine Power List.

Our managing director, Phil Gray, rang straight away to congratulate me and express how proud he was of me.

When I phoned to tell my Mum, she started crying and, in her words, “All the hard work is paying off”.

As the messages started to come through to my phone, I felt myself downplaying how amazing an achievement this was and saying things like, “I don’t deserve it”, or, “How there were probably more worthy brokers who had been in the game longer”.

One of the ladies in my team kindly contacted me and said, “Stop with that imposter syndrome immediately”. She congratulated me on the achievement and told me how deserving I was of it.

I had never heard of ‘imposter syndrome’ before, however I immediately Googled it to see what it meant:  'The persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills.'

I did some research into this and found it to be a very common issue, especially among women and individuals from ethnic minorities. It is very much linked to self-doubt and fear of failure, which I can heavily relate to.

I never came from a wealthy background and had to work since I was 12 years old. I am thankful for this as it instilled traits in me that made me hungry for success. However, on the flip side, I feel it has made me scared to fail.

This worry of failure, coupled with the fact I work in a very male-dominated industry, can be a challenge at times, as I personally believe we have more of an uphill battle to prove our worthiness.

I believe that if we had more female representation in senior roles in the finance industry, then this would lead to less women feeling like an imposter in our industry. We would feel represented and worthy of our position.

I first moved into the finance sector at 19 years’ old. My first-ever manager at HSBC was a lady called Lisa Hastie. I always looked up to Lisa; I loved the way she encouraged me to be my best, knew how to drive my performance in all the right ways, and truly cared about her people. I remember thinking, ‘One day I want to be like Lisa’.

I started with Watts Commercial Finance in September 2020. I was appointed to head up Scotland alongside my colleague, Dean Thompson. Dean and I have both worked flat out for the past 18 months to build our business, and it has been a great success. So much so, that I am now looking to grow our business in Northern Ireland. This is massive for me and I’m so grateful to be given this opportunity. However, I know other people/friends who have not had similar openings, and feel they wouldn’t have the same ability to achieve senior management levels due to their gender.

How many woman have been made to feel they only achieved something because they ‘ticked a box’ rather than they deserved it?

As a young, Scottish woman (three boxes ticked), I have personally been made to feel by others that I only achieved something due to ‘ticking a box’. In reality, what shows your worthiness is attitude, performance, commitment and ability. The bottom line — profit — speaks for itself!

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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