Congratulations to everyone who has made the newly announced shortlists have for the 2020 Women in Investment Awards, where we get the opportunity to celebrate the hard work women are undertaking to drive our industry forward.
As judges, we get a privileged view of the nominations and the details of their motivations and achievements. This is not the only awards that we judge, but it is the only one centred on women that allows them to talk openly about their journey, their personal situations and how this has contributed to their career progaression – or otherwise. The awards event has also been a rare opportunity for female-led networking and celebration, within a mixed audience that included senior people.
Having had the pleasure of judging since the inception of the awards, certain aspects have stood out over the years and trends have developed. For one, the number and standard of entries has increased.
And even though not everyone reads the award submissions, the opportunity for women to be able to talk about their home situation is, we think, important. The fact that so many do and in such an honest way underscores the importance of homelife and the ongoing sacrifices that are being made.
What have we noticed?
Indeed, a difficult family situation is not a differentiator - so many of the awards talk about the caring responsibilities that women have overcome. Instead we should acknowledge this is what so many have to accommodate and ensure we are doing enough to support these additional responsibilities.
Many women apologise in their submission for their level of qualification, even where it has no bearing on their level of achievement. They highlight what they see are shortfalls, or point out that they have gone back and filled in gaps with further qualifications. In reality, this dedication should not be apologised for, but examined in more detail.
While they will talk about how they have worked hard, it’s rare for these women to let this standalone. They qualify their statements, usually pointing to feedback that other people have given them when they have done well, rather than through their achievements.
Most will describe their achievements ‘despite’ the barriers they have faced - sexism, caring responsibilities, perceptions etc. What does this mean for the potential that has been held back?
Many frame their promotions as a surprise and something that should be seen as unexpected, underscoring that it was seen as a rarity and unlikely, rather than something they should expect as a result of their hard work, aptitude and skill.
A common thread is the extent to which women are actively helping other women, informally or through workplace programmes (employee resource groups, mentoring schemes) that support inclusion. Even though these are done readily, these extra tasks takes time and energy that are rarely formally recognised or valued.
Many women have fallen into the industry by accident. This is often true for men too, and speaks of a lack of visibility as a whole for our industry and what it means to be in it day to day. This is a great opportunity to address imbalances by ensuring we are appealing to a wider potential talent pipeline by clearing describing what we do.
When congratulate the award winners for their achievements, we should wonder how we can respond to this insight that we have. It’s even more important this year as we are unable to raise a glass in person.
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