International Women’s Day is a global holiday celebrated annually to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. That is exactly what we will be doing at Generation CFO. But to us, just one day isn’t enough, so we will be posting relevant content about women, sexism and more all week.
We won’t stop there either. We have always celebrated female finance leaders, and we will continue to do so. However, during this week of International Women’s Day 2022, we will be especially focusing on women and their achievements, beginning with this article.
Why I’m writing this
To start the week, I thought I would collate some key quotes from The Shift interviews we have held with leading women and men in the community. I want to really frame the experiences of women using their own quotes and quotes about them, so I picked my top six to share with you.
“Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”
This first quote isn’t from The Shift, but from the International Women’s Day official website, a great source of information about the importance of this day. I wanted to begin with it as it really just sets out what finance, and the world, should be doing.
Unconscious bias and inequality
Now it’s time to look back at some key quotes that are from The Shift, starting with these resonant comments from our interview with Usha Ganesan, Group Head Of Financial Control And Treasury at Kindred Group at Kindred:
“When you’re a female of a certain age, there are these preconceptions of your responsibilities at home and your day to day; what you will and won’t be able to achieve.
Especially in male dominated industries, when you’ve got ambition and you want to progress, it’s not easy when there is unconscious bias.”
She is right to mark finance as a male dominated industry, and other leaders have done the same:
“It’s no secret that this industry is very male dominated,” said Francesca Federico, co-founder and principal of Twelve Points Wealth Management for Forbes.
Even men are recognising the problem and their ignorance to it. David Horne, Founder of Add Then Multiply, mentioned the unequal treatment of women in finance in his interview:
“I was speaking at an event in Reading in April 2019 about fundraising for small businesses and a woman asked me why so little venture capital went to female founders.
As a middle-aged white man the issue just wasn’t on my radar. I told her I’d find out, but what I found out later really shocked me.”
David subsequently came across research by British Business Bank which revealed that less than 1% of venture capital funding went to all female teams during 2017, in comparison to 89% for all-male teams.
It was a shock for David, and may be for you to, but this is the reality for so many women, in every industry – equality has not been reached.
“Two key things came out of my research and all the different people I spoke to about this. Firstly, it’s not just a UK problem but a global one. Secondly, it’s not just a women versus men issue. Men from underrepresented groups face exactly the same challenges. The issue is literally white guys versus everyone else.”
What David said here is really key: inequality is a global problem. To combat this, David began running a series of awareness raising events designed to provide education, hope and inspiration to entrepreneurs across underrepresented groups.
This sets an important precedent for everyone, showing that research and action are just some of the things that can be done to help combat inequality.
Be confident in your abilities
Leona Mondsee, CFO at Rebank, made a remark in her interview for The Shift that I would put forward as inspiration to young women in finance:
“I wish I would have had more faith in myself earlier in my career”
It’s all too easy for us as women to doubt ourselves and the credibility of our ideas.
By raising awareness of female leaders’ achievements and celebrating them, it helps other women to recognise the need to be self-assured and remind ourselves of the achievements that got us to where we are today.
Celebrating female finance leaders
The women we interview for The Shift are very accomplished, and often we get to hear of their achievements.
I thought a good way to finish would be for me to highlight this, to both celebrate these women and to hopefully inspire any others looking to advance in the finance and accounting industry.
I’ll start with Claire Bevington’s Shift interview, Finance and Corporate Services Director at the Institution of Fire Engineers. The largest transformation project Claire worked on came about five years ago when she was still finance manager – she introduced an organisation-wide CRM system.
“It was such a significant project and a massive cultural shift within the whole organisation, not just finance.”
This is an amazing thing to achieve, and she isn’t finished – Claire is implementing continuous transformation at the IFE.
Another achievement I want to draw attention to is from Judy Romano, who at the time of her Shift interview was VP and CFO of Commercial And Tech at IHG. Judy was instrumental in transforming the business during the coronavirus pandemic.
“As horrific as this situation has been, I personally have had the best seven or eight months than I’ve had in a long time. It has been so productive.”
This quote speaks to her resilience in the face of both a global health crisis and in undertaking such a vital and large transformation project. This is inspirational for all of us, as resilience has become a necessity for finance.
I hope you feel inspired after the quotes we have gone through here – if it left you wanting more, visit our Shift archives, and learn about the women making the finance and accounting industry great.