Leda Writes for Fintech Futures: the witches are coming
Each week, Leda Glyptis, CEO of 11:FS Foundry creates #LedaWrites. This week her attention turns, once again, to women in financial services.
This article first appeared on Fintech Futures.
I belong to that generation of women who were raised not to expect much from other women.
The men told us that.
The older women told us that.
There is no camaraderie among women, they said.
You are in competition with each other in ways that set you apart whether you like it or not, they implied.
There is rivalry in play.
Especially between the ageing and the young, pretty ones. Some unspoken animosity older than the hills alluded to but never truly spoken of.
My first boss was a woman and everyone felt deeply sorry for me before they had reason to. She will be a b**ch. Right out of the gate.
As luck would have it, she was. But in exactly the same way the men in her position in that company were. Fancy that.
No women, was my supervisor’s advice when we were putting together my examiner board for my PhD defence. Why not? I asked, idly. There were hardly any women in my field to pick from. Look at you, he had said. As if that was enough.
“You will be managing women, are you ok with that?” was a genuine question during a job interview.
“Do you ask men that?” was my answer.
The interviewer at least had the good grace to look ashamed.
Preaching to the choir
A few weeks ago I was in the US and picked up a book by Lindy West called The Witches are Coming. It is about politics, liberalism and the madness of what passes as public discourse in the US at the moment. It is riotous. It preaches to the choir. It makes no attempt to convert you unless you are already on her side. Even the title is a defence against apology.
So I will borrow her title. And I will take a leaf out of her book and preach to my own choir here. Because we all know the unspoken truths and not the reasons behind them. As if it is not for us to reason why.
Where are the Women? I hear you people ask that when you look at panels and conference line ups. But more importantly I hear my own team ask me that when we leave meetings and client offices, when we look at submitted CVs, when we look at the world around us.
Where are the women?
The facile answer is: We Are Here.
But the truth is you look around in the office, in the workplace, in the crowded city-bound trains and you see the young women. But you don’t see their mothers. You don’t see the in-between women, my age and a bit older. And yet we know where they are. Outnumbered and often outdone.
There are more CEOs named John than women CEOs among blue-chip companies. More funds are run by men called David or Dave than women managers. Funny cos it’s true.
I started a joke which started the whole world crying, Bee Gees
The gender pay gap is real. The microaggressions of the workplace are real. The false choices women have been forced to make year after year are real.
But the rivalry among women, isn’t.
We perpetuate false prophecies and false prophets. That much is true.
And this is not a piece in favour of positive discrimination. We don’t need your help. This is not even a piece about diversity. You know my views on this. Diversity is good for business. But it is not a tick box. You need diversity within your diversity. It is not a numbers game. It is an essence game.
You need to eradicate microaggressions. You need representation. You need equal obligatory parental leave. You need to close the pay gap. You need to encourage your girls to become engineers and your boys to become nurses.
There is work to be done and we all do it each day.