"Being able to leverage different cultures, perspectives and experiences has helped me to build genuine and interesting business relationships."
Our society is constantly changing and women are an important driver of this change. The topic of women in commercial finance comes up repeatedly in my conversations with other women in my network.
I started reflecting on what advice I would give my younger self and put together the Top Tips below. I hope that women at the beginning of their career might find these helpful – and that those who are more experienced will agree.
We should celebrate all forms of diversity, be this gender, race, nationality, background or experience. I believe sometimes women worry about the smallest things, like how to dress during events. We should not put too much thought into it – our expertise, proactivity and attitude is what ultimately counts.
On a more personal note, I try to embrace diversity and draw upon it to bring different ideas and perspectives to my work and team. Being able to leverage different cultures, perspectives and experiences has helped me to build genuine and interesting business relationships. It’s about standing out and being remembered – at the end of the day, people buy people.
Build a strong female support network
Networking is key for anyone in any industry and that is especially true if you are a woman in a male dominated industry. A few of my women partners told me that some of their biggest obstacles at work are related to overcoming gender stereotypes. This has made their desire to support and encourage other women who are just starting off their career or face similar difficulties even stronger.
A lot of events in finance have been targeting female professionals in order to create a community for women who have similar aspirations and are looking for support. I have seen first hand the continuous backing, encouragement and kindness among other women in my network.
No matter your level of experience or job title, there are a wide variety of options for women in the workforce: starting from peer support between you and your colleagues, to following other powerful women both online, i.e. on social media, and offline, i.e. conferences. In addition, don’t be afraid to ask someone to mentor you. Look out for events like City Women Network or Women in Business that can also offer mentorship in a similar way that I’ve benefited from.
Believe in yourself and go for it
What I found most challenging at the start of my career was putting myself forward, always thinking that I was the youngest and least experienced person in the room. But then I started observing other recent graduates and realised that many were in a similar position. However, they didn’t let themselves be held back by these thoughts.
In the end, your attitude is what matters. I’ve come to believe that having the right drive, determination and confidence to put myself forward is what counts most.
The result? I’ve stopped questioning my every move, started following my intuition and focusing on what I can do, rather than what I can’t. This has made me more positive, motivated and ultimately, successful at work.
Don’t be afraid of the gender gap in finance as it is both a challenge and opportunity. Let’s continue to create this sense of community for all women. The 8th of March is a constant commitment for us to "think equal, build smart and innovate for change".