To celebrate International Women’s Day, we interviewed some excellent professionals working across the business about their experiences as women in the finance and legal sectors.
What is the best part about being a woman in your industry?
Gemma Schofield, Academy Supervisor: I think it has to be getting to work with other really inspirational female leaders, especially in my role and in my department. That’s what motivates me, coming together as a team and leading together as women.
Sarika Dhanjal, Head of Advice Quality: It is something special to say, “You know, you’re one of the women that have made it.” However, I think there are a lot of women that are in more administrative roles that probably haven’t had the support that they need to really progress to their full potential. It’s really nice to be able to support that and be an advocate for that within financial services.
Do you think the landscape is changing for women in the industry?
Keeley Wilson, Chartered Legal Executive: Definitely – there’s more opportunities for women now in law. There aren’t any restrictions in relation to promotions and progression. It allows you to still have a family life, which a lot of women used to not feel they were able to do so alongside working full-time. Maternity packages are a lot better too and it is equal treatment. So, yes definitely.
Victoria Ross, Chartered Financial Planner: Financial services has historically been relatively alienating, possibly even hostile towards women. On the client side of things, women still invest a lot less than men do and it’s been a similar experience for people working in this industry as well. But things are changing, finance is modernising.
Things need to move beyond this as well. I mean, obviously the gender equality point is super important, but financial services need to evolve beyond just focusing on men and women. It needs to focus on cross gender and ethnicity and all other points of diversity, because wealth is no longer in the same hands as it was 40 years ago. It now belongs to a wide spectrum of people in society.
Sarika: I am seeing more and more on LinkedIn when people are being promoted, there are a lot more women being promoted and to significantly higher roles within businesses like the senior leadership team and head of certain departments. So I think there is definitely a shift for the good.
Gemma: There’s lots of conversations on LinkedIn about females in the industry and how people are pushing for change. So I do think it’s getting better but slowly, gradually, and hopefully we’re playing a part in that.
Victoria: I don’t think many people really talk about financial planning and financial advice as a career. Going to schools, going to universities to talk about these things and make sure it’s towards our young ladies as well.
What advice would you give to women going for a career in your industry?
Keeley: Just go for it. It’s an amazing career to get into and you can be really successful. There’s plenty of avenues for growth.
Sarika: Don’t be discouraged. There’s always going to be people within the industry that want to put you down or try and make you feel that you’re not as good as you know or you think you are. Keep pushing on, learn from the mistakes that you’ve made and show everybody actually how good you can be and what you’re capable of.