Finance Monthly - February 2022

36 Finance Monthly. Bank i ng & F i nanc i a l Se r v i ce s or women, doubts can be raised through the process. A decision about whether or not to study accountancy can be impacted by the knowledge that the vast majority of CFOs (just under 90% according to research from Crist Kolder Associates) are men. The lack of visible role models for women thinking of taking on a finance post will act as a deterrent for many. The challenge certainly continues in the workplace though and mentoring and support needs to be applied on an ongoing basis, especially when women working in finance look to rise through the ranks. Equileap’s Gender Equality Report & Ranking Report 2021 found that while women represent 50% of the workforce in financial companies globally, the representation of women remains low in higher levels of management, with an average of 26% women on the board of directors, 18% women on the executive team, and 28% women in senior management. These are figures that demonstrate clearly that while mentoring at an early stage is important, this support must be present throughout a woman’s career to ensure that when the time comes they do not feel that they need to choose between a career and a family. Mentoring, in other words, needs to be about retention, not just recruitment and onboarding. Mentoring facilitates and supports diversity The kind of mentoring outlined above can play a key supporting role to women working in finance, but perhaps, even more so, if like myself they are working in finance within a technology context, where there are generally few female role models to help show the way. I speak from personal experience. I wish I had had a mentor, or more specifically, a role model when I was making my way into the corporate world and finance. I wish I had been fortunate enough to have an experienced guide who had been through what I was about to go through, a voice of experience, someone in whom I could see ‘the future me’. A mentor could have foreseen there would be “nice” but “chaotic” Monday mornings to deal with from actively participating in a family environment, something that a working mother has to embrace but I could still have the happiness of having a family and also a rewarding career. A mentor could have taken me aside and said the reality is it’s going to be hectic but incredibly fulfilling. Mentors that can speak with the wisdom of experience have a vital role as guides to women in navigating the choppy waters of the corporate world. Providing reassurance and support Many women in finance face daunting challenges: from entrenched attitudes, and the inevitable ‘imposter syndrome’ that a lack of positive role models gives rise to. Career breaks to build a family can also be challenging. Returning to the office after maternity leave, for example, can feel confusing and alienating when the business has gone through significant change. A mentor can help in providing support and reassurance, based on their own experience, and in highlighting the challenges they might face and solutions that might work. Going beyond even that, mentors can help give women in finance the confidence to believe: ‘It can be done, it is not a question of if, but when.’ An approach that works The evidence suggests mentoring drives diversity by helping support women and minorities to achieve their business goals. Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations found that mentoring programmes boosted minority representation at the management level by 9% to 24% (compared to -2% to 18% with other diversity initiatives). The

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