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Industry Spotlight > Women in Wealth

4 Ways Women Are Disrespected in Finance

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In last week’s blog, I talked about cultivating respect in the financial services industry, and what to do if you don’t feel that you’re getting enough of it, regardless if you are a man or a woman. In this blog, I’d like to focus on disrespect toward women. 

In my experience, women in the financial services industry typically run into one or more of four major disrespect issues. Here’s a description of each, along with solutions on how to overcome them. 

The first, which could fall into several troubling categories, including disrespect, is compensation and advancement. A lack of equal compensation for the same jobs is a common complaint among women in financial services — a complaint that has been backed up by numerous stories and industry studies over two decades. 

Here’s the good news: While this disparity does exist in some financial services businesses, I must admit, of over 1,000 firm compensation incentives we have seen and developed in the past decade, we don’t see it anymore. What we have seen is firms paying more (which creates a whole new issue) in order to attract and recruit women as advisors and as executive talent. 

Consequently, my suggestion to women is to take control of your own compensation and career. If you’re not happy at your current firm — whether it’s for compensation or other reasons — start looking for a new job to pay you and/or treat you equally. 

The second area in which women tend to feel disrespected is in “inclusion.” While the growing influx of women is slowly changing things, our industry does still have a “good ole boy” network. This network doesn’t always give women the respect and belonging they need to share ideas and knowledge to advance their careers. 

I don’t self-disclose often, but the “good ole boy” club used to be the most bothersome area for me. Years ago (at the advice of a man) it was recommended I just “show up” if I want to be included. What I learned is, men don’t think about “inclusion.” They often assume those who want to be there will come; they need no invitations. 

It was very hard, at first, to show up. It felt like I was intruding. However, I was always welcomed graciously, and it is the place I can truly say my career was significantly enhanced and trust was built. The perspective I gained was invaluable. 

The third area is big — the comments. It’s important to make the distinction between a “sexual” comment and a “sexist” comment. A “sexist” comment is usually a derogatory statement aimed at women as a group, such as: “Well, women aren’t good at math anyway…” A sexual comment; “Your looks match your smarts.” 

Sexist comments say more about the ignorance and prejudice of the person saying them. A sexual comment, on the other hand, is often a joke — or framed as a joke — often meant as a compliment. Simply put, none of these comments are needed, and calling them out — in a respectful way — ends them.

And finally, let’s talk industry conferences. I have gone to a lot of conferences in the last 20 years. If I forget to unplug the phone, I get more than a few unwanted phone calls to my hotel room late at night, from both women and men. 

But I also know a lot of men who get just as many calls. To end disrespect in financial services and at conferences takes an understanding of women and men.

Next week, I will address disrespect happening to men.