This International Women's Day, I interviewed Julia Drell, Head of EMEA Compliance & Deputy Global Head of Compliance, and she shared her thoughts on how we can #EmbraceEquity.
Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful. The IWD 2023 campaign theme seeks to forge worldwide understanding about why equal opportunities aren’t enough, and a focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA.
International Women’s Day belongs to everyone, everywhere. Collectively, we can all help create a diverse, equitable and inclusive world.
1. What is one action companies can take to further balance their talent attraction strategies?
Articulate clear ‘family’ strategies that seek to accommodate the demands of parenting during a person’s career and help women to navigate it effectively. Not enough is being done to support families and manage a person’s career through parenthood. This is also true for fathers who do not always receive the support needed. Managers must be coached given that they often have outdated notions as they are often from an older generation.
2. Do you think that more companies adopting hybrid working patterns has helped to shift conceptions about flexible working for women and why?
Hybrid - and flexible - working has been hugely beneficial to families and has had a positive impact on both parents. The older generation, who are still holding senior positions, were very sceptical before COVID about any working from home so it has been a game-changer since then, especially as asset managers have retained such working patterns now.
However, the (perceived) pressures on women around their maternity leave and parenting responsibilities upon their return to work have not changed sufficiently. Much more dialogue is needed by companies beyond parental leave benefits to acknowledge and accommodate living outside the office.
3. What does being an affective ally for women look like for you?
As a manager, it's important to understand the different challenges that women face during their careers compared to men. These partially stem from our different roles in parenting, stipulated by our biologies but are tangled up with other societal and cultural preconceptions. Managers must therefore understand the challenges the women in their team face to help them navigate these challenges effectively and lobby within their firm to further the dialogue around parenthood.
4. What advice would you give aspiring women in the industry you work in?
Women and families must demand more from their employers and create a dialogue with their workplace to support their career development. If firms are serious about promoting female talent, a genuine way must be found to accommodate female career progression that blends with parenthood.
5. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Preconceptions around what leadership should look like and the lack of female role models make it difficult to envisage what good leadership, be it male or female, should look like. The traditional authoritative male model is still too much in people’s minds. Engaging with younger employees early and ensuring the visibility of alternative leadership models in a company may give younger female colleagues a more realistic role model and make alternative leadership styles more acceptable to men.