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Sharing your frustrations and challenges

Sharing your frustrations and challenges

Mark.Freed / 16 Oct 2019

We get many emails from members of our community sharing their frustrations and challenges.  

We received this one this week following up on some work I had done to call out some bad practice at a bank. Do you feel like this? Does it highlight the challenges faced by women in the industry?

The author works for a European domiciled global bank within the wealth business. Our member is a Senior Director with significant responsibility. Here is her email to me:

“Dear Mark, I have indeed been trying for many years to drive diversity forwards at the Bank. Sadly, even the efforts to drive it from the outside, i.e. by focusing on female client needs (which we are still not very good at) and rethinking our value chain and supply chain accordingly (to exert a pull on diversity inside) seems to have dropped off the current management’s strategic agenda. Women are still a cyclical “nice to have“ priority - the minute we cut costs they fall off the priority list, whether we talk about women clients or women employees. 

It makes me so sad that we have gone backwards not forwards. All the men replaced in top management over the past two years were replaced by men. Not a single new woman in sight.

And with all due respect, those few women who have made it to the very top, many achieved it in a man’s world - by adapting to it perfectly. I don’t think they deeply understand that women today don’t want to become men to be successful. We want to bring our own individuality and EQ to work every day, and not repress our full selves to fit an outdated mound. Nor are the few women at the top capable of driving change if none of the men around them and above them really take ownership of the gender agenda. 

The top management had announced years ago a concrete target of 30% senior women by 2020 - but no one is held to account for not meeting it. The fact that we have added women to the Board of Directors is sufficient to deflect the world’s attention away from the lack of progress internally. Now we only talk about “aspiration”, no targets, implying diversity is still a ”nice to have” but It seems to me no one is ultimately held to account. 

We have lost so many top female bankers (MD, ED level) over the past 2 years out of sheer frustration. We have a great career comeback program for junior women - but that is not our problem. We still lose all the senior ones. So it’s like trying to fill a bath tub without a plug...

As the saying goes, privilege is invisible to those who behold it. And those with privilege  have little motivation to change things. Short of having activist shareholders who demand this or regulators who impose this, i doubt if the current management team will be able to make the sweeping changes needed. 

I would like to be more optimistic and I would like to help change this in any way I can - but my voice is simply not heard. So this is why it is great that it is a man like you, and a man outside of the major banks, who holds up a mirror.”

If you share similar frustrations, and would like to join our community to be supported by our services and fantastic network, please contact Katie. 



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