Women in Financial Services Blog

Alessandra Wall - Recap of insights from my trip to the UK.

Alessandra Wall - Recap of insights from my trip to the UK.

Katie.Dix / 28 Jun 2019

Alessandra Wall - Recap of insights from my trip to the UK.

It's early on a Monday afternoon I'm slightly jet lagged and slowly catching up with work tasks and responsibilities that have been on hold for the past two weeks. Although there is much to do, I find myself eager to write this article and share some insights from my recent trip to London.

While in the UK, I met with the leadership team of E2W Limited and had the privilege of both presenting to a group of its members on the topic of speaking up, and of meeting individually with many of these exceptional women in finance. There is nothing quite as thrilling as sharing what you love with a group of passionate and engaged people. This was certainly my experience with the women of E2W who were eager to discuss their aspirations, their roadblocks, and their ambitions.

These women like most of my clients are smart, driven, ambitious, and talented professionals. They have worked their whole lives to make an impact, challenge the status quo, and build careers that they can be proud of. Also like most of my clients, the women I spoke to shared frustrations about: their ability to speak up freely and authentically, the fact that they did not feel properly valued by the firms they work so hard to represent, and their uncertainty around stepping-up and accessing the next level in their careers.

For these women and for every other smart professional woman who wants to be as successful as she deserves to be here are three (3) insights from my discussions with the members of E2W limited, two (2) pieces of advice.

Insights

1. 'Never good enough' is universal:

I spoke to some of the most intelligent, talented and successful women of Britain. Already very successful in their own right, they have demonstrated their value and potential both professionally and personally. Still, many of them operate under the assumption that their baseline isn't good enough, that perfection alone can satisfy the needs and expectations of others. Never good enough means that they go above and beyond every day, all day, to produce a quality of work that, although exceptional, will eventually burn many of them out.

As a recovered perfectionist and a specialist in the field of anxiety, I am all too well aware of the negative impact this assumption has on our performance and wellbeing.

2. Motherhood makes us care more, not less, about our careers:

Not all the women I spoke to were parents, but many were. We discussed the impact their careers were having on their personal lives and evaluated their professional ambitions in light of the sacrifice they might represent for time spent with loved ones. Every single one of these professional mothers spoke about wanting to have a thriving career, and make a demonstrable impact in their industries because, among other things, they wanted to provide their children a positive model of what it means to be a successful woman.

Motherhood does not make women less invested in their careers, it makes us care more about showing up and making our mark.

3. We're still underpaid and undervalued

Whether dealing with actual salary discrepancies compared to male colleagues or expanded responsibilities and hours without commensurate pay, it's clear that hard work, education, and excellent performance aren't always the key to being valued or rewarded at work. This is something companies are going to need to fix because the women who shared these realities with me all articulated growing resentment and loss of faith in their organizations' values and mission.

Articulating your value isn't about trying to make yourself look good, it's about taking ownership of your worth and communicating to those who need it how best to put you to use.

Not surprisingly, despite being underpaid and feeling undervalued, nearly every one of the professional women I spoke with was still committed to her team and her career within her organization. But companies beware, women are willing to sacrifice quite a bit for what we believe in, but everyone has a breaking point.

Advice

1. Know and articulate your value.

If I had a single piece of advice for the women I spoke with, this would be it: Get crystal clear about your value, then speak up and share that information with as many people as possible. Let your teams know what you excel at, speak to your bosses and managers about your areas of expertise, be clear, be objective, and don't worry about bragging. Articulating your value isn't about trying to make yourself look good, it's about taking ownership of your worth and communicating to those who need it how best to put you to use.

2. Slow down

Many, if not all, of the women I met with, have been on a fast-paced track to the top. In their efforts to grow, rise and succeed, they have taken every new opportunity and project that was presented to them. Few have stopped or slowed down long enough to think more strategically about where they are, where they want to go, and whether those ambitions were in step with their needs and the women they are today. So please, slow down. Make time to consider what it is you need, where you actually want to be, and what obstacles stand in your way.

Slowing down in this way will allow you to move more smoothly and effectively towards a career and life that is right for you. As they say in parkour: slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

Dr Alessandra Wall, a psychologist and coach and now a guest contributor to E2W’s Blog and Newsletters. Alessandra  is going to help us in our continued mission to support you in your career path by, over the next few months, contributing a series of articles surrounding career progression, managing work scenarios, overcoming self-confidence issues and other pertinent topics. Some of you may already know of Alessandra thanks to her social media presence, or you may have heard her speak.

In the meantime, please digest and embrace her articles, engage with us and Alessandra – let us know your thoughts, and help us help you reach your career goals.

Alessandra can be contacted via E2W

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