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The Rise of Women in Financial Leadership: Breaking Barriers & How to Ride this Wave Well

Hey there!  The world of financial leadership is undergoing a remarkable transformation, and we are at the forefront of this revolutionary change.

Not too long ago, the finance industry was predominantly a male-dominated domain, where women’s presence in leadership roles was scarce. However, over the past few decades, we have witnessed an inspiring wave of change. Today, women are rising through the ranks and claiming their seats at the table in finance firms across the globe. This paradigm shift is a testament to the tenacity, brilliance, and unwavering determination of trailblazing women who paved the way for our success.

We’ve come a long way from being underrepresented and undervalued to becoming a driving force in financial leadership. Slowly but surely, the world is waking up to the fact that diverse perspectives lead to better decision-making and enhanced financial outcomes. As a result, there’s a growing recognition of the invaluable contributions that women bring to the table – not just as finance professionals but as transformational leaders.

As ambitious women seeking to grow in our careers, it’s essential to embrace the tremendous power we hold collectively. We are not alone in this journey; we stand on the shoulders of those who fought for gender equality in the workplace. Their courage and sacrifices have made it possible for us to rise to these esteemed positions and challenge the status quo.

Empowering the Next Generation

Our progress isn’t just about us; it’s about creating a world where the next generation of women doesn’t have to face the same barriers we did. By breaking down barriers and thriving in financial leadership, we are opening doors for young girls to dream bigger and aim higher. We are the role models they need, proving that gender is never a limitation to achieving greatness.

Our journey is not without its challenges, but it is also one of transformation and empowerment. It’s about embracing our unique strengths, learning from our experiences, and lifting each other up. As we continue to excel in our roles, we are fostering a culture of inclusion and diversity that will lead to a more robust and equitable financial industry.

So,  let’s seize this moment! Let’s tap into the collective power of our shared experiences and elevate each other to even greater heights. Together, we will leave an indelible mark on the world of finance and redefine what it means to be a financial leader. The future is bright, and we are the architects of that future. Let’s break barriers, shatter ceilings, and inspire generations to come. This is our time to shine!

The Gender Gap in Finance

Let’s face it: the finance industry hasn’t been the most inclusive playground for women. We’ve seen the numbers, and they’re not pretty. But don’t be disheartened; we’re here to change that! According to recent statistics, women are still significantly underrepresented in executive finance roles. But fear not, as the winds of change are blowing our way.

Just the other day, I was looking around the room at the executive leadership team when we are were on an off-site and low and behold I was the only women there. And the only minority in the room. And even today, in these situations, I’ll notice subtle gender biases and the infamous imposter syndrome creeping in. But guess what? We have the power to rise above these barriers and embrace our uniqueness as an asset, not a liability.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in my journey to help us all rise together.

Growth Mindset

One of the first things I learned on my journey was to cultivate a growth mindset. Instead of viewing failures as roadblocks, see them as stepping stones. Every setback is a chance to learn, grow, and come back stronger. Embrace continuous learning and self-improvement, and you’ll be unstoppable!

Conquer Self-Doubt

Ah, that pesky self-doubt! It used to haunt me too. But let me tell you a secret: even the most successful leaders have their moments of doubt. The key is to acknowledge those feelings and then let them go. Believe in yourself, own your achievements, and stand tall in the face of challenges.

Challenge the Status Quo

Gender bias can be insidious, but we have the power to address it head-on. Don’t be afraid to challenge biased remarks or assumptions. Share your experiences, educate others, and be a positive force for change. 

Sometimes, I’ll even throw out a question just to offer a counter argument for the team to ponder. Remember, we’re not just breaking barriers for ourselves but for the generations to come.

Navigating Male-Dominated Environments

Navigating male-dominated environments may seem daunting, but remember that it’s not a competition; it’s about collaboration. Emphasize your unique perspective and strengths, and be assertive, not aggressive, in your communication. Respect goes both ways, and it’s essential to foster mutual understanding.

Building and Leveraging a Supportive Network

Peer networks are like a tribe that understands your journey intimately. Join professional groups or affinity circles where you can share experiences, gain insights, and collaborate on projects. Together, we are stronger, and together, we will change the face of finance! I’ve found a lot of support in other women leadership groups. I really appreciate being to bounce an idea off other female leaders that may have encountered similar challenges in the past.

The Art of Effective Communication

As finance leaders, we communicate complex ideas daily. Develop the art of clear and persuasive communication. Speak confidently, listen actively, and remember that effective communication is a two-way street.

Decisions and Risk Management

Leadership is about making tough decisions, sometimes in uncertain situations. Embrace risk management and data-driven decision-making to ensure your choices are grounded in evidence, not emotions. I try to use data to back up every decision I put forward. From setting quarterly goals to offering an additional day of PTO for the team, everything is backed by data.

The Work-Life Juggle

Achieving work-life balance isn’t easy, especially when you’re ambitious and passionate about your career. But it’s essential to set boundaries and prioritize self-care. Remember, we can’t pour from an empty cup. What are the things that energize you? Put together your list of non-negotiables that you commit to do. No matter how you feel. For me, it’s a daily workout. If I don’t work out that day I can tell my energy is just a little bit lower than normal. 

Taking care of ourselves is not selfish; it’s necessary. 

The Power of Empathy

Empathy is the secret sauce that binds teams together. Empathetic leaders connect with their team members on a deeper level, making them feel valued and supported. Did you know that empathy is actually a common denominator amongst some of the best known leaders in business? Do not be afraid to be empathetic in your professional life, It’s this ability that will allow you to connect with others and being able to make key connections will be critical in your career progression.

Emotional Intelligence: The X-Factor

Emotional intelligence is your superpower! Developing emotional intelligence allows you to understand and manage your emotions and those of others, creating a positive and inclusive work environment.

Learning from Failures

Failure isn’t a dead-end; it’s a detour to success. Embrace your failures, learn from them, and get back up stronger and wiser than ever before.

Trust me. I am no stranger to failure. I took a 5 year detour from my accounting & finance career to start a cookie company only to come to it 5 years later. To me it felt like the ultimate failure. I really thought I was going to be baking cookies for the rest of my life. But what I didn’t know was that failure actually gave me such valuable knowledge & experience about running a business that I was able to apply in my career to help companies grow & scale ast 8 & 9 figures and eventually to exit.

Resilience is the muscle that keeps us going when the going gets tough. Cultivate resilience by focusing on your strengths, staying positive, and surrounding yourself with a supportive network.

Leveraging Diversity for Success

Embrace diverse perspectives and create an inclusive environment where everyone’s voice is heard. Diversity isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a strategic advantage that fuels innovation and drives financial success. 

Creating Your Path

You are the architect of your career. Craft a personalized career growth plan, set clear goals, and take strategic steps towards your vision of success.

Seizing Opportunities

Don’t wait for opportunities to knock; create them! Be proactive, step out of your comfort zone, and seize every chance to showcase your skills and potential.

I, for one, am so excited to see the rise of female representation in finance. Let me know if there’s ever anything I can do to support you in your journey!

August 8, 2023

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From Cookieprenuer to a C-Suite Financial Executive, Liz knows that living outside the box is possible and wants to empower others to know they can do the same.

Financial Executive. coach. Female leader + AAPI Encourager.