“Investment Banker”; it is now 100 years since the establishment of International Women’s Day in 1911. Yet say these two words to anybody and almost invariably the image of a Caucasian man in a stiff suit pops into their mind. But views are changing and they’re changing fast.
In partnership with HSBC, Women in Banking and Finance organised a networking event and workshop on "How to achieve Career-Family success" led by Christine Brown-Quinn, Founder of The Female Capitalistä and author of “Step Aside Superwoman! Career & Family is for Any Woman”. It was enlightening – Christine gave us some of the latest statistics on the progress that women have made in the working world and some of the hurdles we still face. For instance, in five years, 70% of GPs in the UK will be women.
The session was highly interactive. We discussed solutions that can enable the achievement of that perennially desired, hard-to-achieve optimal balance between giving
100% to work and giving 100% to home as well as the pervasive benefits a working mum brings to her family, her children, her colleagues and indeed society at large.
I went to the seminar planning to leave early but changed my mind within thirty minutes. This event was the perfect ground for building connections as it included people from different banks and indeed some from different industries. Oddly enough, I managed to catch up with a Managing Director (one of the very few female MDs on the trading floor) who sits two rows away from me in my bank but whom I have never had a chance to converse with properly. I received some extremely useful career advice in the process. She mentioned that when she started out the senior women were all “trying to be men”. They never spoke of their personal experience or their life outside of work for that matter. They also maintained a tough, unapproachable exterior. As a Gen-Y, I have probably taken some of the freedoms we now enjoy for granted. Nowadays being womanly is completely compatible with being an intelligent, go-getting investment banker and Wibf is successfully managing a platform for like-challenged women to meet, share their experiences and improve their personal and professional skills.
Although the event focussed on women, I thought men who are interested in the issues that women face (anyone with a sister, daughter, niece or a wife) would also be in attendance. However, only one man was in the room. Indeed much of the information on achieving a work/life balance is applicable across the board regardless of gender. Now more than ever, given the increase in the number of fathers that state that they wish to spend more time with their families. Going forward, it is up to us to encourage the boys to come along – as Sylvana Caloni (Manager of the Personal Excellence Programme and Vice President Wibf) rightly pointed out, we have to do this together.
Above all, one thing stood out for me. It was the enthusiastic, can-do attitude that permeated through the room. At the end of the day, it was all about maintaining a positive attitude.
By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I'm always thinking, debating, considering and revising my views - some of those deliberations will be shared right here.