Diversity is not about hitting targets, it is about building a culture where everyone can thrive. This was a key takeaway from Treasury Today’s latest Women in Treasury Forum in London.
2017 has been a hard year for global discussions of diversity and inclusion. Against this challenging political backdrop it can often feel like progress is either stagnant or in fact declining. However, the ever increasing success of programmes such as the Women in Treasury initiative are a testament to a gradual global movement towards equality and we must all be vigilant and ensure momentum is maintained.
This forward-looking ethos was highlighted at our latest and most groundbreaking Women in Treasury Forum in London last Thursday 14th September. The event was held at Plaisterers’ Hall in the City of London and attracted over 180 senior treasury professionals from the UK and Europe. Attendees came to network, learn from each other’s experiences, and hear from an inspirational line-up of senior industry speakers who shared their personal insights on a broad range of issues.
Over the five years that Treasury Today have been running the Women in Treasury initiative the dialogue has evolved to include diversity in all its forms and we have been delighted to observe the evolution of the conversation. The forums now take place across the world and the discussion has expanded to bring men into the fold and to discuss broader themes of diversity, inclusion and career development.
The 2017 London panel featured:
Cornelia Hesse – Head of Controlling, BASF Global Finance Shared Services
Frances Hinden – VP, Treasury Operations, Shell International Ltd
Sabine McIntosh – Managing Director, Global Head of Account Services, Treasury and Trade Solutions, Citi
Peter Lay – Head of Global Treasury, Oxfam
Deborah Mur – Head of Global Liquidity and Cash Management, HSBC France
Central to the panel discussion was the idea that diversity and inclusion will only thrive once we begin to think in entirely new ways. This involves every one of us, both men and women, reassessing how we perceive the workplace. The stellar line-up of panellists were frank about their own experiences of prejudice but were also honest about the limitations of their own perceptions. Until we try to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes we will not truly understand their professional experience.
A lack of empathy and a willingness to step outside of our own experience can manifest itself in behaviours that can make people feel uncomfortable or see them overlooked for promotions. In the fast-paced world we live in, it can be easy to forget that those around us have their own internal and external struggles that may impact how they behave. Taking time to think about these is a great way to build empathy and understanding, both of which are key traits of diverse thinking.
The positive message was that each panellist promoted a theme of empathy and understanding. This, along with hard work and constant learning, will be our way forward.
Organisations can also help by building policies that promote diverse thinking, especially around hiring practices. The panel noted that all too often, managers hire people that reflect themselves or replicate the profile of previous high-performers. The result is exclusive hiring practices that do not promote diversity. Building policies that implement checks and balances around this may be a positive step to take to ensure more women and men who are overlooked for myriad reasons, receive the promotions they deserve.
Food for thought
The purpose of Treasury Today’s Women in Treasury initiative is to inspire and generate debate. This year the forum in London certainly achieved these objectives.
“It takes energy and courage to drive change,” says Séverine Le Blévennec, Director EMEA Treasury at Honeywell. “The Women in Treasury Forum provides a great opportunity to chart the progress that has been made and ensure that our attention remains focused on driving diversity in the workplace.”
Karen Pugsley, Group Treasurer at Domino's Pizza Group said: “I have been involved in Women in Treasury since it first started. It is a great opportunity to network and hear the other perspectives of women in the industry.”
Want to learn more or get involved?
We host a Women in Treasury LinkedIn group providing a dedicated platform for discussion, debate and support – to join this group please email firstname.lastname@example.org
A comprehensive account of the latest Women in Treasury Forum London will feature in the November/December edition of Treasury Today.
The next Women in Treasury event will be in New York on Thursday 12th October 2017 at The Pierre hotel near Central Park. For more information, please contact Lisa Bigley, Global Head of Events – email@example.com