For the past month, the media coverage of inequality on Wall Street has been about the Occupy Wall Street protests. But Vision 2020 can’t help noticing the other inequalities on Wall Street. Since 2000, the financial industry has lost over 141,000 women. Only 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, yet women make up 47% of the U.S. labor force. If you were to do a simple Internet search on “women in finance statistics,” you would find that though women are obtaining more advanced degrees than men, the number of women in entry-level finance positions has decreased by 16.9%. The number of men in the same positions has increased by 7.3%. From the bottom of the ladder to the top, women and men do not hold an equal amount of leadership positions. Why has this happened, and more importantly, how do we fix this?
This first steps to rectifying this inequality are to recognize the problem and to develop a plan. One of Vision 2020’s goals is to increase the number of women in senior leadership positions, and numerous State Initiatives have plans to attack the core of this issue. But a plan is nothing without action, and action is nothing without leaders. The Vision 2020 Delegates are working hard on their initiatives; however, what about the women in finance who are unaware of Vision 2020?
Insert Women on Wall Street (WOWS), who held their annual conference in New York City on Oct. 19. It was a star-studded event, with the biggest female names in finance taking center stage and sharing lessons learned along their journey. Here are the highlights:
- First, it really isn’t a corporate ladder so much as it is a corporate lattice. Women shouldn’t be afraid to make moves that aren’t strictly upward promotions.
- Second, don’t wait for others to see your accomplishments and recognize you for them. Toot your own horn! Women are paid for their performance, and if nobody knows what a fantastic job you are doing, how can they pay you?
- Third, make friends with your business contacts. The rule about keeping your business and your personal life separate is outdated, especially when your friends are other women in the financial industry. Women are more likely help their friends in the business.
- Lastly, never forget that Wall Street is war. The workplace is a never ending war zone, and women need to be able to skillfully navigate this hostile environment.
If we can learn from the leading female financiers, there is little doubt that we can fix this inequality on Wall Street and beyond.