I started out in a graduate banking role while remaining involved in my family’s construction business, and all roads eventually led to development finance in the alternative lending sector.
Having been involved in real estate lending for over 18 years, it’s still evident that female talent remains one of the most underutilised business resources.
- Only now am I starting to understand that I don't need to have a 'game face'
- 'We need to think about more lateral hires and outside-of-the-box recruitment'
- 'Collectively, we can all break the bias'
In my opinion, as career levels rise, female representation declines and, while it’s no secret that the industry is male-dominated, what exactly is holding us back?
This is a hard question to answer. I don’t think there is any one specific thing holding us back, but it is a combination of factors. However, if I were to pick three, they would be as follows:
- the ratio of men to women in the workplace is mainly unbalanced, which is especially prevalent in the construction industry. The very fact that there are more men than women means that women have less of a chance of being promoted into the more senior roles. This is a statistical point. But, if you have a company with a diverse workforce, boasting a good percentage of women and minorities throughout the ranks, the chances are that more women would be promoted. The focus/effort needs to be on recruiting a diverse workforce at both entry-level roles and throughout all ranks, not just at management level. The more women overall in a company, the more chances we have of women entering board-level positions
- another issue is the cost of “quality” childcare. This is an issue that affects families in the UK across all sectors but, if you consider this cost for a woman in the financial services industry where (a) fewer women are being promoted into the more senior roles where salary is higher and (b) the sector has a significant gender pay gap, these factors hinder the ability to afford quality childcare dramatically, resulting in women leaving the workplace to work at home — sometimes for a longer than intended timeframe. Additionally, they often return to jobs that are on a lower pay scale than where they left. More needs to be done by companies to facilitate women returning to the workplace in tandem with addressing the gender pay gap
- women need more role models and mentors among high-ranking roles in finance. I've been very fortunate as I have several female role models that I call on for advice at any time. I do wish, however, that I had access to these smart, vocal and strong role models 10 years ago, and not just in more recent years
What advice would I offer to other women looking to pursue a similar career? I would say two things: permit yourself to be the most courageous version of yourself and don’t waste energy trying to fit into a male-dominated box. Also, be unapologetic in fighting for what you deserve. You can have a family and succeed in your career — don't feel that you must choose one or the other.
Are you a woman in the financial services industry keen to get your voice heard? Contact [email protected] - we would love to chat!