The role Women in Finance play in corporate cultures

September 20, 2019

Photo by Lawrence Macaron on Unsplash

 

At a Finance Leadership Team session I ran this week, I was asked the following question, ‘What part of your work do you love the most? Is it the coaching, the team stuff….what is it?’ I get asked this question a lot, actually. The gods honest truth is of all the speaking, training, facilitation, coaching and writing that I do, for me the perfect scenario would be a combination of coaching & mentoring and team facilitation. So that’s what I told them.

 

I believe in positive corporate cultures

 

The reason being, that I thrive on relationships and working with groups. But more broadly than that, I believe in culture. I believe in positive corporate cultures. I believe that in a world of entrepreneurship there is still a need for organisations, because as social beings many of us still want to be part of something including at work. 

 

So that is why working with teams is so important to me. Because, as Aristotle said, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of parts’ and so a team is the way that culture is spread pervasively through a department or organisation. I’m sure we’ve seen or experienced finance leadership teams that are so dysfunctional and toxic that it erodes any chance of a thriving culture and workforce beneath them. Even if, as a whole, the organisation’s culture is seen as good. In contrast, we have all probably been in the opposite circumstance. 

 

So, teams are important to me.

 

1:1 coaching is also extremely fulfilling. You get to partner with an individual and be their trusted advisor and confidante to help them grow and achieve their dreams. You get to accelerate their learning and achievements. You build up a tight relationship. It’s incredibly rewarding. When they are in roles where they lead people, you also know that their individual learning is being cascaded through their teams. So it’s a very leveraged way of learning which is awesome.

 

There is no ‘i’ in team, but a team is made up of individuals 

 

Which is why it saddens me when I see women who go through a coaching program or leadership training program only to resign shortly thereafter. I mean it’s great: these women have newfound confidence and clarity around their values, what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it. So they leave feeling incredibly empowered and it’s thanks to the great work they’ve done with their coach or trainer as well as to their sponsor who had the nouse to put them on the program to begin with.

 

But when these great women walk out the door, so does their contribution to the fabric of the corporate culture. And we desperately need their contribution. The female talent that walks out the door is often the talent that companies want to keep because they represent the best of the company. They are the ones that truly live the values of the organisation: not only that of equality, diversity & inclusion, but those of innovation, challenging the status quo and raising the bar.

 

So what’s missing?

 

One of the key missing elements is what I call, ‘conversations to create change’. It’s the conversation that takes place as the leader is learning about herself, about her strengths, her needs and what she should expect from a good leader and good team. It’s the conversation that takes place when she realises there is room for improvement in the department, in her boss, in her team and in herself. And it’s even the conversation after that, when she thinks that what she’s saying hasn’t been heard and she needs to say it again.

 

This is what’s missing. The ability to have real conversations to create change.

 

Then the corporate culture changes. The return on investment in the development of women in finance radically increases. The attrition rates go down. The intake process is easier because more women are attracted to the industry.

 

Women are the change makers. 

They are the ones that can accelerate turning companies into communities.

 

What conversation do you need to have to create the change you want? 

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