Roundtable: Gender Equality and the Stock Market (Part 1)

Today is Gender Equality day, which celebrates women's suffrage

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    It's a monumental day for investors, with the Jackson Hole Symposium dominating the conversation. But today is, more importantly in the grand scheme of things, also Women's Equality Day, which occurs every Aug. 26, to reflect the date women were granted the right to vote in the U.S. in 1920.

    However, there are many other hurdles women have overcome, and are still fighting, today. Especially in the investing world. Gender equality in the workplace, especially as it pertains to the stock market, is very important to us.

    To help along the dialogue, we posed some questions to several industry experts. And don't worry, there's no mansplaining in sight!

    Part one is below, part two will go live later today.

    As a woman in the world of investing/finance, do you have a story of how you have broken barriers, elicited change for yourself and/or your female coworkers, or have an encouraging story that inspires you to continue to face daily inequality challenges in this male-dominated field?

    Jennifer Lee, financial advisor and founder of Modern-Wealth

    "At financial conferences, there are a growing number of women in attendance, offering opportunities to leverage their experiences, lift, and support one another. I remember attending sessions just 10 years ago where there were only two of us in a room of 40. Today, the make-up of those sessions is probably 30% female.

    I do remember one specific situation where I found myself in a glaringly male dominated room. I often conduct talks on writing your family love letter, a subject that is universal and can pull together a multitude of pieces of a financial plan, family’s intentions, legacies, and values. I was given the opportunity to speak to a group of insurance professionals and as I looked out at the audience I suddenly realized, I was a 42-year-old female, 15 years in my career, speaking to a sea of 58–75-year-old men. These gentlemen were wildly successful in the financial world and likely had a knowledge and certainly an experience base larger than mine.

    I conducted my talk, shared my perspective, and guided them through the process, just as I would a general audience. As I concluded, I looked up to see this group of men, wiping their eyes. I had hit the motherload of impact. My talk about values, family, and their legacy had hit a cord so deep that they were moved emotionally. It may sound silly, but it was a proud moment for me to say that I had a room full of men tearing up. Not for any other reason than they heard me, were moved by my story, and maybe, just maybe they went home to write their love letter."

    Sharai Lavoie, Lavoie CPA

    “I find that in my field, women are seen as suitable for a support role versus being a leader. I will still often get looked over in favor of the males in the organization; the assumption is that they would be more knowledgeable or can better understand strategic focus. The looks I get when I say I am the CEO are so funny (shock, disbelief, and sometimes dismissed). I have had people walk away as if to say: "there is nothing you can do for me." To that, I say, your loss!  My hope is that more women will be sought after not only to lead the way but also to create it, which was ultimately the inspiration for the Women Who Lead Campaign. To motivate more women on their career journey or honor those who have made a powerful impact on our lives, the Women Who Lead campaign hopes to empower women to drive that inspiration in others. Through this campaign, August 18th is now Women Who Lead Day in Charlotte, NC, and allows us to celebrate all the women who are making a difference in our lives.”

    Lydia Alexandra Renders, CEO, Willow

    The biggest barrier I broke is to allow myself to be a feminine woman in a man's world, and not just in my appearance, the true shift, the one that mattered was through my feminine thinking. When I was diagnosed with MS in my late 30's modern medicine was failing me. I knew something had to change. I embarked on a spiritual quest, doing deep inner work to know who I am, what is truly authentic to me (instead of what I am good at) and what is integral to me to make me a complete being in this world. So many aspects of myself were hidden under male traits, thoughts, and energy that dominated my workplace. I had been denying my intuition and doing what was expected by the male power structure. I realized that when I played by their rules, and was aggressive, backstabbing and not very kind, I was denying the essence of my true self. Having the courage to explore what was inside, I discovered aspects of myself that had been obscured by my career choice, my work environment, and society.  When my body healed, my soul healed. I woke up and said I am going to do it my way. I had always worked from force, instead of my softer feminine power. I literally skipped into the brokerage house office with pink pens and pink legal pads and put pink pillows and picture frames in my office. I showed up to the Board room and client meetings and everywhere in between with those pink office supplies. The more I healed the deeper pieces in me, the more my intuition flowed.

    I made more accurate calls than the boys. I stopped reading the newspaper and getting information as they did, and when they jabbed and bullied me about it, I made even clearer calls. My results spoke loudly.  I was able to see things from a different perspective. I had the guts to challenge the assumption that I had to play by their rules. I put that male-ego personality and aggression aside. I balanced the masculine within me and empowered the feminine ending my internal struggle. I read the market and the trends from love, nurturing and support instead of fear, intimidation, and anger. My business has been soaring ever since."

    Dawn Knaggs financial controller, Privalgo

    “When I started working in this industry, it was obvious that having a young family and being the main care giver also meant that I wasn't on a level playing field with male colleagues in the same position as me to advance my career.  

    I was always a part-time mum and a part-time career woman. It was very difficult to have both! Prior to the pandemic, I started working with a new company, within a male dominated business. But this was different. There were no barriers to which room I could be in, I was respected for my work, not disrespected because of my gender. 

    But, and it's a big but, I still prioritized my young family over my career. And as much as you don't want that to be an issue, pre-pandemic it really was. 

    I missed out on conversations, meetings, opportunities because I had to do the school run or my little girl was off school with a tummy bug. And because of that, I decided I needed to step back from advancing my career. Then covid hit.  

    The world of online meetings, working from home and improving technology opened my world! Suddenly, everyone was in the same boat as me. And I was able to advance my career and be a mum!! In the last 2 years my career has progressed incredibly, and I am now the only female in our organization sitting on the board and a director of a new start up we are working on. My workplace allows me total flexibility on my hours. A career and a family can be done!” 

    Part 2 will be live on our site at noon today!


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