Although the coronavirus has been a devastating impact on so many Americans, March calls for the celebration of one thing: International Women’s Day.
Throughout the hardships many Americans have faced this past year, women have constantly endured challenges with gender bias and inequality, long before coronavirus. For 2021, International Women’s Day is about choosing to challenge these unfair conditions. Women, particularly in finance, have always fought these stereotypes to make a change in the male-dominant industry. Like the amazing former first lady Michelle Obama said, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish” (Barrientos, 2020).
Vanderbilt Financial Group, known as “The Sustainable Wealth Management Firm” believes in impact investing. Our organizational goals are aligned with the intention to bring about positive social and environmental change through our business and investments. We are committed to being a responsible business in the world, similar to the unwavering commitment we have made to our advisors and our staff. This year, we made a commitment to SDG Goal #10, 'reduced inequalities within and among countries'. In the entire Financial Services industry, only about 32.1% of financial advisors are women (Women in Financial Services: Quick Take - Catalyst, 2019). We at Vanderbilt #ChoosetoChallenge gender bias and inequality. There are so many ideas women can bring to the table, so we even partner with women-dominant firms including Centered Wealth. Jina Penn-Tracy is one of the women who #ChoosestoChallenge the finance industry with her female-dominant team. Her advice to women starting in financial services would be:
“allow yourself to deeply care about your clients. Too often we try to pretend like business relationships aren’t real relationships, but working with a client’s money is very personal and clients can feel your care for them. Aside from that, learn-learn-learn. Women generally need to feel we fully understand something before giving advice, so do whatever it takes to understand concepts. There are amazing resources like Udemy, webinars on the CFA Institute website, as well as Insurance Continuing Education platforms that have excellent financial training modules which you do not have to be licensed for. Also, a great mentor can make all of the difference in starting your career. Women need to get comfortable with saying ‘I don’t know, but I will do some research and get back to you about this.’ One of the best things about this career is that you will always be learning and growing, you will never know everything. You will build long-term caring relationships and you will make a difference in peoples’ lives”.
Executives in the industry are also predominately male. However, at Vanderbilt, our Executive Team is 40% women. Women executives represent only 20% (Women in Financial Services: Quick Take - Catalyst, 2019), in the entire industry. This is due to factors, including: motherhood (Motherhood in Finance: What Is Maternity Leave Costing Your Career?, 2019), “lack of ambition” (Connley, 2020). Unfortunately, there are stereotypes that women lack ambition, when it is the opposite. According to Survey Monkey, 54% of women feel very ambitious when it comes to their career (Connley, 2020). Many women also tend to not want to go on maternity leave because a lot of the time their pay rate changes when they return, or they lose thousands of dollars while out (Motherhood in Finance: What Is Maternity Leave Costing Your Career?, 2019).
We at Vanderbilt #ChoosetoChallenge the stereotypes as well as gender bias and inequality. We stand together with women around the globe in solidarity. We celebrate #IWD2021 with an open-mind and a hopeful heart for the future of all women.
“To those who took a stand. To those who changed the game. To those who believed in themselves. To those still making history. We thank you”.
A special thanks to Jina Penn-Tracy for her words of wisdom for future generations of women in the financial industry!
Barrientos, S. (2020, January 21). These International Women’s Day Quotes Will Help You Unleash Your Inner Goddess. Good Housekeeping. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/g26326977/international-womens-day-quotes/
Connley, C. (2020, March 5). Ambition is not the problem: Women want the top jobs—they just don’t get them. CNBC.https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/05/why-women-are-locked-out-of-top-jobs-despite-having-high-ambition.html
Motherhood in Finance: What Is Maternity Leave Costing Your Career? (2019). Finance Monthly | Monthly Finance News Magazine. https://www.finance-monthly.com/2019/12/motherhood-in-finance-what-is-maternity-leave-costing-your-career/
Why Are So Few Women in Finance? It’s Complicated. (2019). Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/092315/why-are-so-few-women-finance-its-complicated.asp
Women in Financial Services: Quick Take - Catalyst. (2019). Catalyst. https://www.catalyst.org/research/women-in-financial-services/