As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day (#IWD2022) today, we talk to Kate Monserrate, founder & director, and Giang Hughes, business support manager, at Simplify Consulting, the management consultancy specialising in wealth and investment management. Both are firm believers that embracing the role of women in the workplace brings huge benefits to the range of thought and experience within the team as well greater success to the business overall.
Kate Monserrate still sees financial services as a male dominated environment but she believes that the balance is starting to change. She comments:
“At least there are now successful women in senior positions which we can aspire to. I think the pandemic really opened up flexible working, in particular for women. It now seems acceptable to genuinely work flexible hours.
“I would absolutely recommend a career in financial services to other women – there are so many opportunities to have a really varied career. My tips for success are – go for it and don’t hold back…if you are offered an opportunity then embrace it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and build a strong support network around you. And be yourself. I would encourage a young woman to do whatever she wants to do. To have confidence and believe in her own abilities…to not be held back by her own insecurities
“In terms of gender, here at Simplify Consulting the split is 50/50, and that starts at the top. I co-own the business with Carl Woodward, my business partner. We always appreciate each other’s view point. And that is the key – diversity means diversity of thought and experience.
“I think there are key events in a woman’s life, which organisations can do more to support. When a woman has a baby, when a woman comes back from maternity, when a woman goes through the menopause. These are physical and emotional changes for a woman…organisations can do more to ensure there are options to support in terms of flexible working and just acknowledging these events so there is awareness. I hear so many women say they doubt themselves, they aren’t sure if they deserve to be where they are, they struggle to balance home life and work life. We can all do more to ensure women remain in financial services and feel empowered and supported. I would also ask women to support other women…let’s build each other up!”
Giang Hughes is business support manager at Simplify Consulting. Like her colleague Kate Monserrate, Giang also highlights the importance of having strong role models and also of good mentors to encourage women to be the best that they can be in what ever role they choose.
Giang comments: ” My career in financial services from the noughties onwards saw me working in bank contact centres and HR within Learning and Development. Whilst there were many women working within these areas, most of the managers – and in particular the senior leaders – were men. It’s only been in the last few years that I have observed more women take on senior management and executive roles and are visible as role models that women can aspire towards. It’s empowering for women to see they can have a career (in senior roles) after having a career break (children, caregiving) that’s not restricted because of lack of flexible working hours or opportunity.
Like Kate, I would absolutely encourage young women to seek a career in financial services. One way I think that we can encourage this is to seek female role models already within FS as mentors and advocates to help young women to navigate the industry and progress their career paths. There are many mentoring programmes that can connect young women to successful women in FS. Women also just need apply for more jobs as research shows women are more likely to screen themselves out because they feel they need to meet 100% of the criteria.
To effect real change, I believe that it’s important to break through the stereotypes of what women (young or otherwise) see as typical jobs available and the skills needed in financial services, such as being a maths geek or needing an economics degree to have a meaningful and creative career path. Having a working environment and an employer that can and will support women through life events will encourage them to stay.
Having worked in several large banks and financial corporations in the past and in areas that were male dominated (financial advice, commercial banking) it’s been refreshing to work at Simplify Consulting where we have an even split of men and women at all levels- including having a female co-founder and director. Feeling heard and seen and being regarded as a peer is invaluable and encourages us to bring our best both for ourselves and the organisation. Long may it last!”