Louise Bracken-Smith, managing director at Fairway Trust, says her group supports flexible working to remain attractive for the young professionals.
Why are there so few women in top positions?
The main issue is that it is tough to keep two careers going in a household. Most families take the decision for one partner stay at home with the children, and the other to become the breadwinner, the one with the potential to earn the most. This person is the husband most of the time, and it is assumed that the childcare is the woman’s role.
As studies have shown, men are promoted quicker than women. This may be because men tend to apply for the jobs that they believe they can do while women are far more likely to only apply for jobs that they know they can do a hundred percent.
Have you experienced the so-called glass ceiling or glass cliff?
Personally, I was brought up to believe that it was necessary to be twenty percent better than a man to be considered the same. However, I believe people can be successful regardless of their sex. I am fortunate to be in a female-dominated trust industry, so glass gender problems have not been an issue for me.
What advice can you give to women wanting to make it into senior management?
To be the best they can be. If they believe in themselves and can add value to the business, there is no reason they would not succeed. Differentiating themselves is important, being reliable, focused, loyal and making a positive impact are also essential qualities. Understanding and believing in the business strategy is key for those wanting to make it into senior management roles.
Who has helped you rise to the top?
My business partner Alistair Rothwell has always been very supportive of me as a female partner, and he embraces the gender issues as we are a female dominated group.
What does your firm do to support women?
In our group, we are sixty-six percent female and thirty-four percent male. We support flexible working hours and support those with young families as much as we can. For example, we are in the cloud so people can work from home if they need to.
Is it all about gender or is it really more diversity?
I believe it is about both gender and diversity, and if we want more women in the workplace we need to value them and support them when they decide to care for their families. This thinking starts with parenting and how we bring up our children. The future of the industry is set to change as the young generation is not ready to compromise on work-life balance.