The financial services industry needs to focus on common ground rather than polarising debates in order to raise the number of women in the profession.
International Women’s Day. A day that I have made no secret about supporting.
2018 will be my third year helping to put together an IWD event with the aim of bringing the advice industry together to celebrate and inspire.
But it is a day that can be polarising – particularly in financial services.
Each year I see many of the same issues debated in the comments sections of articles (and maybe this one will be no different):
“There’s no such thing as the gender wage gap.”
“People should be hired on merit only. I don’t believe in quotas.”
“Why do we have to celebrate women? We don’t have International Men’s Day!”
(Well, we do, it’s the 19th of November, but I digress).
If nothing else, the day invokes passion from individuals of all genders, many opinions and all walks of life. But unfortunately, sometimes in amongst all of this lively debate, what we could be doing as a community to push for progress, gets lost.
And perhaps more importantly, with so much focus on the fine print of feminism, it can become easy to forget that this movement was designed to encourage inclusion, support and above all – equality.
The Australian financial advice sector is still largely male dominated (similarly to many other sectors within financial services, including the sub-sector I’m a part of – financial planning tech).
While we often talk about striving as an industry to even up these numbers as well as the wages, I feel we don’t often agree on how.
Are there things we could all be doing better to make the advice community a more welcoming, fair place for women? Absolutely.
Could we be providing more pathways and avenues that encourage women to enter a career within financial planning? For sure.
And while we could all argue about the best ways to do this, I think regardless of our opinions, we’d find the most essential thing we should be striving for is to not allow ourselves to be an industry that is divided by the minutia of gender issues.
I believe (or at least I’d like to believe) that the majority of us are for gender equality and that although we have come a long way, there is still some work to be done when it comes to this.
We may not agree on the best way to get there, but regardless of our paths – the destination remains the same.
In start-up land, many great ideas and businesses fail before they even get off the ground because the founders can’t agree on some minor issues and they let this be their undoing, forgetting that they all have the same objectives for the business – to succeed!
I’d hate for this to happen within advice, especially when it comes to increasing the number of women in our industry.
This International Women’s Day – regardless if your female or male, I’d like to encourage you not to focus too much on the issues and ideals you disagree with.
But rather pick one thing, even if it’s relatively small, that you can do to make our community a more inviting, blossoming, equal opportunity place for both genders to work – together.
Naomi Christopher is senior manager, brand, at Midwinter
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