The world of finance is still a boy’s club. Despite more women entering the field, it’s dominated by men.
Women in finance, therefore, face some unique challenges working in the industry. Because they are underrepresented in financial workplaces, they may have a harder time accelerating their career.
This is an important topic to discuss, which is why we bring women in the financial field onto the Jenji Talks podcast. Learn from their stories, how they’ve overcome challenges, and get advice for women who want to enter the field.
Women in finance might be less common than men in finance—especially in decision-making positions—but they’re no less powerful, influential, and determined. Let’s keep the conversation going to increase equality in finance and empower women to new heights.
Women in Finance: Opportunity or Challenge?
Like most things, you can look at the situation with women in finance as either an opportunity or a challenge—there are two sides to every coin!
Talking about challenges, a few things come to mind:
- Many women take career gaps for family matters. This makes it harder to be promoted to the next career level.
- Finance workplaces often expect full availability and 24/7 access which is, again, not as easy for some women with other responsibilities.
- Fewer women in leadership positions make it harder for other women to enter the field, as they may feel like they don’t “belong” there.
And when we think about opportunities, there are plenty:
- There’s increased awareness about the inequality of women in leadership, so more conversations are happening.
- Many companies are strategically hiring women to increase their diversity.
- More women are stepping up to mentor, sponsor, and encourage the next generation into the field of finance.
Both challenges and opportunities exist here. What’s most important is that women do not become discouraged by the challenges but push forward and make the most of the opportunities that are there.
Equality and Diversity in the Finance Sector
Despite both the challenges and opportunities, things are changing. The biggest change is around the awareness of inequality in finance. Diversity in the workplace, even beyond gender, is an important cultural conversation that many people are having.
As more people are aware of the lack of gender diversity in finance, more people will start making changes. Right now, some companies are prioritizing gender equity while others are not. As the conversation continues, there may be more pressure on those who are “asleep” to this issue—they’ll either make changes or get left behind.
Today, gender quota systems are a way companies target diverse employees. It forces them to start looking at other qualifications, skills, and abilities to hiring the right people for the job. These quota systems receive some pushback, but, if they increase the number of women entering finance, they have a net positive impact.
How to Improve Equality in Finance
When we think about improving equality in the financial industry, there are a few practical strategies companies can start embracing:
- Adjust qualifications to widen the applicant pool: Instead of looking for a specific number of years, consider other life experiences. Women bring unique skills to these roles but might never get the chance to show them because the specifications are too narrow.
- Understand that diversity creates better outcomes: It’s a well-known fact that increased diversity leads to more productive, innovative, and creative teams. One study found that committees with just one woman outperformed those with all men by an average 12% increase in IRR (internal rate of return).
- Provide mentorship opportunities: This can attract more women into the field and practically support them when they’re there. More on mentorship below!
- Introduce quotas: Quotas force companies to be accountable to act on their gender-equity goals. Research shows that government intervention has improved gender equity in various fields.
Mentorship and Support
Mentorship and support from other women are key to changing the financial world. For more women to enter the finance industry, they need to see people like themselves in it!
Both formal and informal mentorship has several benefits, such as:
- Exposure to new opportunities: A mentor can introduce her mentee to a new role, connection, or project that will accelerate their career.
- Practical support: Mentors can show other women tips and tricks to navigate the financial industry.
- Moral support: Mentors encourage their mentees to keep going, even when things are tough.
- Community: We are all better when we work together and being in a strong community of women in finance can help improve the industry.
Learning From Other People’s Experiences
One of the biggest benefits of mentorship between women in finance is that you learn from other people’s experiences. This is also the reason we host the Jenji Talks podcast—it’s a great way to hear from other women’s stories and be inspired by them.
From other people’s experiences, we learn so many lessons. Here are just a few takeaways from our guests:
- Steep learning curves are an opportunity for growth; you will always learn on the go.
- Build a strong network of support to help you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and take the leap you fear.
If you are interested in hearing some of the stories from strong women in finance, check out all the Jenji Talks podcast episodes.
By listening to women in finance, we can learn and grow to make it a better, more inclusive space for everyone. Women in finance is the future and we’re excited to see where it goes!