Yesterday, I was at a briefing event for Bank and Building Society CEO’s, held at the Prudential Regulation Authority’s headquarters in the City.
As we arrived, it quickly became clear that in a line of men in suits, I was the only woman – and as I entered the auditorium, my suspicions were confirmed. Amongst 150 or so male CEO’s, there were perhaps five women present.
So it begs the question: where are the women? Within both Fintech and banking, there’s still such a marked gender imbalance when it comes to those top spots, and as a female CEO, I’m still comparatively – even in 2017 – one of few. Despite the great work being done to raise the profile and professional confidence of women, I was still only one of about five female CEO’s at this prestigious event. But why?
There’s clearly still a gender bias at play, which isn’t really surprising considering how deeply entrenched some of the old attitudes are, and how much it takes to change systemic imbalances of power. I’ve seen and been through it all, to get to the position I’m in today, and have experienced first hand the toxic consequences of gender inequality.
And that’s why it’s so important for me to get things right at Starling. I want to build a culture that champions and elevates brilliant women, and instils in them the confidence and career growth to reach those high-profile positions and achieve their fullest potential. It’s been reported that women account for only 7% of board chairs and 6% of chief executives in the largest companies in the EU – and this shouldn’t be the case.
As I walked into the event yesterday, I started to think about all the advice I wish I’d been given as a woman at the beginning of my career – and how the lessons I’ve learned through decades of experience might benefit a new generation of women hoping to make their way in these male-dominated industries. Here are just a few of them…