Progress for women in alternatives is a collective effort

Female leaders in finance highlight pay gaps and advocate for mentorship and open dialogue for progress, explains Nicola Le Brocq, director of funds and corporate, UK, Jersey Finance..

Recently, Jersey Finance hosted a webinar in conjunction with Funds Europe featuring female leaders of alternative businesses to talk about how they reached the top of their game and what they feel would be transformative for women who are forging careers in the global alternative funds space today.

While the discussion touched on how to encourage women at an entry-level stage of their careers – the greater presence of investment firms at careers fairs and the impact of effective mentoring programmes providing young professionals with a visible model to look up to, for instance – the prevailing question was how to retain and support women to take on more senior roles and removing the bias within the selection process.

It is shocking that in 2023, only 29% of leadership roles in finance are undertaken by women (World Bank) and that 80% of UK employers pay men on average more than women, with that pay gap equating to a 12% difference.

What our webinar highlighted was that meaningful change must start with a frank conversation. This isn’t about paying lip service to a familiar debate, however. It is about companies fostering an authentic and open environment where women can be honest about what they need to succeed – without deterring their career opportunities.

Interestingly, the global pandemic appears to have done some good in shifting the dial; in 2019, under 20% of employees in the hedge fund industry were women versus more than 25% today (Preqin).

Why?

Perhaps at a time when both sexes were forced to occupy the domestic and professional environment simultaneously, a greater understanding of the push and pull of those dual roles was imbibed.

And maybe that is the key – greater empathy, appreciating that an individual’s situation is just that: individual. Understanding that presentism and productivity don’t necessarily correlate and that an employee who feels supported is more likely to be the one who goes above and beyond and who shows the greatest commitment.

Of course, ideally, it’s ultimately about equity, but after more than half a century of the women’s liberation movement, the pace of change to reach that position still seems woefully inadequate.

Undoubtedly, there is still much to be hopeful about and speaking with these inspiring women was a testament to that fact. The old adage of ‘you cannot be it if you cannot see it’ was a prevailing theme during the conversation, and so by illustrating how it can be done, conceivably, the next generation of future female senior professionals will have the confidence to carve their own path to success.

It is through discussions like this that we make progress collectively.

This webinar forms part of Jersey Finance’s wider initiative for 2023, focussing on Women in Alternatives. Visit the Jersey Finance events page to find out more about upcoming events like this one.

© 2023 funds europe

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