Women in Financial Services Blog

We asked our members what #balanceforbetter means to them?

We asked our members what #balanceforbetter means to them?

Mark.Freed / 08 Mar 2019

Today is International Women’s Day and the campaign theme for this year is Balance for Better with the rally cry of “how can you help forge a more gender balanced world?” 

E2W has many answers to that question thanks to the work we do to help women in financial services. We assist employers to recruit and retain talented women through the services we offer, collaborating to create and implement policies and procedures that foster a supportive and flexible working environment and culture.

Balance for Better certainly means something to us as it influences all that we do but we wanted to hear from our members too. 

We asked for your thoughts on what Balance for Better means to you and we’ve had some great responses. Here are just a few.

“Having worked in financial technology for over 25 years and risen to the C-Suite level, I have worked through a lot of positive changes in gender balance in the workplace. There have definitely been positive changes in how women are integrated, evaluated and treated in the City. 

However, here’s what I still don’t get…… 

All of my schooling was in co-educational schools and colleges and as I went through my education to graduating from university. During this time, it never occurred to me that there were any differences between the abilities or chances of success for men or women; I was surrounded by smart, capable, strong, kind people of both gender who were equally as impressive.

Most of the men I know have raised daughters and they are fiercely proud and supportive of their talents, intellectual prowess and achievements, nurturing them from the cradle to their first forage into the working world.

Diversity has been on the agenda for many years as well as clear evidence about the dividend of diversity translating into a business’s bottom line. 

…..so what’s missing? Why, over the last 25 years, hasn’t this translated into a much more gender balanced workplace and at the C-Suite level? 

Change is happening, don't get me wrong and that is a very positive thing. Change needs to continue to happen at every level of an organisation. However, I believe we need to look at ways to accelerate the move to true balance and diversity across all levels of an organisation - to focus and aspire towards greater goals.  

Those of us in positions of power and influence must take on the responsibility of making the step changes and levelling the playing field in our society and workplaces so we can all achieve more.

We need to be real leaders for change and not followers of the minimum gender balance requirements to which government and industry aspire. Dream BIG and make balance happen - it is for better.”

Kirstie Galloway, C-Suite Executive

“Balance for better can mean a number of things, but what immediately springs to mind is gender balance. Firms are focusing more on gender diversity in the workplace; some are definitely better at it than others!

There has been a slow shift in companies doing more to re-dress the balance and actively putting processes in place to ensure more women are considered in roles that have previously been male dominated. Leading on from that, to me, it is also about the work/life balance. I work for a company whose culture is definitely one which encourages a healthy work/life balance and this is not just for those of us with young families. 

Irrespective of your circumstances, everyone needs downtime and time away from the workplace to relax and recharge those batteries!

Mindsets are changing whereby it is no longer frowned upon if you leave the office just after 5/5.30pm. This makes for a much happier workforce which is willing to go the extra mile as they can see they are valued and recognised for the work they are doing.”

Louise King, Global Transaction Reporting Manager, Vanguard

Sara Hunt also agrees on the importance of time away from work as well as breaking the mould.

"I worked for a great CEO once who was a real advocate of balance in life, so much so that he coined his own term for it! His view was that work is such a big part of life that you need 'work/non-work balance' not 'work life balance'.  And I'd be lying to say that this opinion didn't influence my thinking.

I've spent a lot of time researching why there's a lack of women in senior positions. First of all, I thought it was the high cost of childcare in the UK but my investigations didn’t prove that was the case. 

Further conversations, observations and research has led me to believe that the obstacle to women making the top quartile of earners is unconscious bias. It's easy to hire those who are like us: look like us, have similar backgrounds, similar beliefs, live within a similar culture and when we meet those people at interview, unconscious bias kicks in and convinces us that they're right for the team - "they're a good fit". 

But that isn't the right way to hire – sometimes, we need people who don't fit.

In order for a team to achieve its potential, we need much greater diversity across the board: gender, for sure but also experience, point of view, age, skill set, ethnicity, culture and beliefs. By deliberately making these choices during the recruitment process, we are able to strengthen our team's weaknesses and plug the gaps. This, in my opinion, is the kind of balance that we need not only for productivity but also for the bottom line.

Returning to that great CEO and work/non-work balance, it's even more important these days when we can access emails days and night and work anywhere, at any time. It's essential to set boundaries and to feel empowered to do so - to unplug. Self-care and, in fact, self-preservation in this way will allow us to exploit time away from work and to return, refreshed and recharged … and of course, more balanced."

Sara Hunt, previously Head, Reputation Risk Management at Standard Chartered  

We have found it really interesting learning what balance means to you all – we are constantly thinking about gender diversity in this office so it’s pleasing to hear that others dwell on it too as well as other aspects of balance in life. 

We would like to reiterate Kirstie’s comments that those with influence and ‘power’ need to effect the changes when it comes to this important subject. Companies need to be committed to gender diversity and that commitment needs to be heard and seen from the top and to waterfall down to all levels.

And, it’s a relief to read that the next generation of leaders, will think about home and work gender balance differently to previous generations and that this is being actively considered. It’d be great if by the time we all retire, we are leaving workplaces as level playing fields for men and women but there’s a lot for E2W and the rest of us to do before then.

If you like to learn more about what E2W can do for you or your organisation, please contact me, Mark Freed for a chat.

 

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