Tina Brown, the former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, has been quoted as saying: “I could never have got to where I am in my career without my husband. The choices I made, he worked around.”
Her words will resound with many professional women and they certainly echoed the words of the female panellists I heard at a Women in Treasury forum hosted by Treasury Today.
That event – along with other events for women in finance that I have attended over the years – inspired me to put together this article on the five essential accessories required by women who want to reach the top of the finance profession.
Accessory #1 – A house husband
Some truly incredible women manage to get by without one, but the truth is that behind every successful woman, there is usually a supportive man who is prepared to stay in the shadows while his partner searches out the limelight. Not only that, but he is brave enough to face the crowd of mothers waiting outside the school gates day after day and explain that being the primary carer really is his full-time job. Not every man can do it.
Accessory #2 – A supportive boss
These are possibly even harder to find than a supportive husband so if you already have one, you are one of the lucky few. If you don’t have one, you need to seriously think about trying to find one. Apparently men who have daughters tend to be strong supporters of women in the workplace. What you need is a boss who appreciates that you are not a threat. Instead, when you do well, you are making him/her look good.
Accessory #3 – A mentor
Sometimes nothing quite beats being able to seek out the wisdom of someone who has “been there, done that”! That’s why a mentor is an invaluable accessory for any ambitious woman in finance who is aiming for the top. If you have a mentor, you have the opportunity to discuss your own career, along with important business issues, with someone who has a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective.
Accessory #4 – Black high heels
When I was editor of Accountancy magazine, I was once criticised for putting a pair of black high-heeled court shoes on the front cover to represent women in finance. Now, I have been to a lot of industry events over the years and I can honestly say that black high-heeled court shoes are not only commonplace – they are virtually de rigeur. I have two pairs myself. I would not think about attending a finance event unless I was wearing them. I’m not sure I can give any logical reason as to why, except that they mean I’m closer in height to the men whom I’m talking to!
Accessory #5 – Self-confidence
This is the accessory that many women in a wide range of fields notoriously lack. But it is the essential accessory to getting ahead in your career. If you’re not naturally self-confident, you need to invest in your own personal development so that you become more self-confident – perhaps by doing life coaching or training in personal speaking. Either that, or you need to learn to be a very good bluffer!