6 Key Career Strategies for Women in Finance

The upper echelons of the finance industry remain male-dominated.

While women who aspire to reach the industry’s pinnacle have no dearth of top female wealth management professionals to draw inspiration from, the numbers don’t lie. According to a recent Forbes report, just 15% of finance industry executive positions are filled by women, despite near-parity at lower levels of the workforce.

Business finance

The fact is, women in finance face significant structural barriers to upward mobility — not least, outdated stereotypes, double standards in performance evaluation, and outright bias from male and female managers. In fact, leading California Employment Attorney Barbara Lawless stated in an interview that discrinimation by female managers towards upwardly mobile female executives is “the #1 form of discrimination that I see in my practice.”  Lawless calls this the “Queen Bee Syndrome.” “Unfortunately,” says Lawless, “it is common to see female middle-managers feel threatened by, and jealous of, their uber-successful, rising female counterparts. As a result, some will frequently hinder their success, by denying them opportunities for advancement or earned rights, or worse, by sabotaging their employment.”

What can junior female finance professionals do to counteract these powerful forces? These strategies may help. 

1. Be Prepared to Work Harder Than Everyone Else

This should come as no surprise. Nor should it prove particularly difficult for ambitious women willing to work harder than their male colleagues. But, as any junior associate knows well, it is a prerequisite for success in the finance industry. Plan accordingly.

2. Network Like Your Career Depends on It

You don’t get paid to network. But there may come a day when you get paid more because you network. Hasten its arrival by attending every industry event you possibly can, however tangential to your core job duties. Shake hands. Hand out business cards. And polish your elevator pitch, the better to make a lasting first impression.

3. Join Professional Interest Groups for Women

In the real world and on professional social networks like LinkedIn, we should add. This is an extension of your networking practice, and it’s also a chance to find the mentor you’ll need to guide you through the early and middle years of your career. Soon enough, you’ll have your own chance to give back.

4. Mentor Junior Women Employees

Here it is — your very own chance to give back. Once your career is off the runway, you’ll find yourself in a position to help other professional women navigate the same obstacles and opportunities you successfully cleared back when you were still green around the ears. Throw yourself into this work; often, the most elite positions are reserved for professionals who’ve proven beyond a doubt their willingness to intervene for others.

5. Hire the Organization You Want to Become

As you rise through the ranks, you’ll play a role in hiring junior and mid-level employees — first indirectly, as part of a committee or department lead, and later directly, as an executive. Choose your hires carefully, with an eye to bolstering organizational resources and fostering the same diversity you no doubt see in your client base.  Above all, make sure that your employees are honest, and meet the highest level of ethical standards that you surely adhere to every day. Success breeds success, so make sure that your employees share the same values as you, such as hard work, determination, and always putting the clients’ interest first.   

6. Don’t Take “No” For an Answer

Finally, be willing to push back on those who’d block your path. You will have to accept “no” for an answer at points, but don’t do so without a fight. Your career is too important to give away with a smile.  You may not always get the result you want or make new friends, but in the end, you will be glad you didn’t aim to please everyone and instead chose to fight for what was right.

Success Is Closer Than You Think

Yes, the glass ceiling is still a thing in finance. But it’s cracking, slowly but surely. And every new hire, every promotion, every high-visibility win adds another crack. 

For upwardly mobile women in finance, success is closer than it appears. We just have to be willing to work for it — while refusing to take “no” for an answer.

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.

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