Treasury Today’s Women in Treasury initiative was launched in January 2013. Aiming to provide a platform to support, inspire and increase the visibility of women working in our industry, the project began with a series of profiles in Treasury Today and Treasury Today Asia. These profiles of female high flyers working across the treasury profession presented a personalised view of womens’ backgrounds, struggles and career highlights. Following this, in June 2013 we launched the Women in Treasury Annual Study. The first of its kind, our Study was developed to better understand the female treasurer’s experience at work, including issues such as salary parity and career development.
Women in Treasury Annual Study
To present the results of our Study, bring women in the industry together and provide a networking platform, we hosted a Women in Treasury Forum. On Thursday 31st October the first Women in Treasury Forum was held at London’s Four Seasons Hotel, Canary Wharf. 150 women from a wide range of industries attended to be part of this pioneering initiative. The Forum provided a rare chance for women in our industry to network, share their experiences and hear our four panellists discuss the key issues highlighted by the Study.
The event started at noon with a pre-lunch networking reception during which Angela Berry, Publisher of Treasury Today, presented an ice-breaking welcome message and an exclusive summary of the Study findings. This was followed by the lunch during which an ‘all-star’ panel discussion took place.
The panel line-up of four extremely well respected women within the treasury industry was composed of:
- Maeve Robinson, Assistant Treasurer, Omnicom Group and the winner of Treasury Today’s Adam Smith Awards Woman of the Year 2013.
- Marie-Astrid Dubois, Assistant Treasurer of Honeywell and Highly Commended Adam Smith Awards Woman of the Year 2013.
- Jenny Knott, CEO, Standard Bank.
- Pam Walkden, Group Treasurer, Standard Chartered Bank.
Our panel focused on four discussion areas:
- Job satisfaction.
- ‘Vive la differénce’.
The discussion was facilitated by Maia Rushby, CEO of Diversity in Leadership, in leading a lively and inspiring debate around the role of women within our industry, obstacles to their ongoing success and what women can do to improve their career prospects. Going beyond mere theory and conjecture, these four women articulately shared many personal experiences and accounts of the highlights and trials of their impressive careers to show all women in the industry that they can and should be aiming as high as their ambitions permit.
I thought it was very inspirational because usually you are just working in a team and you don’t really think about what the differences are between you and your colleagues. It was good to hear from very experienced women of ways in which you can think about how you operate in the future and how you can change things for people who may be younger than you.
Sarah Saxby, Treasury Director, Cash Management – Rio Tinto.
A question and answer session followed the discussion, with many interesting and challenging views and questions raised. We recognise the importance of networking, mentoring and support. Our panellists have had many role models that have inspired and encouraged them throughout their careers. Whether an appointed or unknowingly chosen mentor, such figures (either male or female) are vital in raising the ambitions and confidence of any aspiring woman.
The panel discussion and question and answer session echoed many of the views expressed throughout this year by the women featured in our Women in Treasury profile series, where many female treasurers have expressed their fierce commitment and passion for their profession. What resonates from the responses we have gathered is that the majority of women in treasury feel they are experiencing inequality, both in pay and in career prospects, and this appears to be exacerbated for those who have children. Nearly 60% of Study respondents said that they did not believe they were paid the same as their male counterparts – nor did they feel their career prospects were the same.
Two areas of inequality specific to treasury are identified as the highly male environment that the industry remains and the fact that the nature of the work of a treasurer does not lend itself well to flexible working arrangements, making life particularly difficult for treasurers who are also parents. In addition, one topic that came up during the panel discussion was that women must become more forthright at demanding the (sometimes flexible) working conditions that they need in order to manage the very top jobs and balance that with external responsibilities.
When it comes to professional networking, key to career development, there are very few existing platforms available for women treasurers. Our Study and subsequent Forum have served to highlight the necessity for women to better promote themselves, to find great mentors and to support one another. Although nearly all of the women surveyed stated that they think mentorship is key to career development, over 50% are working for a company that does not offer such a programme. The Women in Treasury Forum was a perfect opportunity for female treasurers to raise their visibility, learn from each other’s experience, and to network amongst their peers.
I have been to several women’s networking events in the past, but this was special because it brought together treasury professionals and addressed the particular issues that women face in that industry.
Susan Webb, Managing Director, Pfizer
And we aren’t stopping there. The Women in Treasury initiative has only served to highlight just how essential it is that we create a platform for the women in our industry. In 2014 we will be holding a Women in Treasury Asia Forum in Singapore in May to create a networking and discussion platform for women in the industry working across the Asia Pacific region. We will then host a networking Forum in London in November. We will, in addition, be developing further print, online and event based networking for 2014 to run alongside our ongoing series of female corporate profiles.
An event like this is long overdue, there isn’t a forum that brings women together on this level and the approach is the right one. The candour of the speakers was really something, they were so open and honest and the women here should reflect on the comments made today.
Women in Treasury ASIA Forum
Following the resounding success of the inaugural Women in Treasury Forum in London we will be holding our Women in Treasury Asia Forum on Thursday 8th May 2014 at Raffles Hotel in Singapore to create a networking and discussion platform for women in the industry working across the Asia Pacific region.
The Forum will commence at 12 noon with registration and a drinks reception, during which Angela Berry, Publisher of Treasury Today will present a summary of the key findings of our Women in Treasury Study. We will then be holding a panel discussion moderated by Eleanor Hill, Editorial Director, Treasury Today Asia followed by an open question and answer session. This event will provide the rare chance for women in our industry to network, share their experiences and hear women in the industry discuss some of the issues highlighted in the Study.
To book your table now or for more information please email Lisa Bigley, Head of Events at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lisa on +44 (0) 1304 629018.
We will, in addition, be developing further print, online and event based networking for 2014 to run alongside our ongoing series of female corporate profiles.
I don’t necessary believe in quotas because that stirs up all kinds of issues. I am intrigued to how is this situation will be resolved. With forums like this it will only become better.