Find Your Tribe: Why Networking Is Critical to Women’s Empowerment

There’s no doubt about it: Today’s women are killing it in the workplace.

The data speaks for itself. According to recent reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 73 million women in the U.S. workforce today. What’s more, women own close to 10 million businesses and are more likely than men to have earned a bachelor’s degree by age 29. These are just a few of the many statistics that underscore the major, professional strides women have made over the past few decades.

Despite these advances, another obstacle stands in the way of success: A very low percentage of women advance to corporate leadership positions.

Twelve percent of the chief executive officers (CEOs) of large U.S. financial firms are women. And when you look at the Fortune 500, the numbers are even more dismal: Women make up just 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs and just 7% of top executives at Fortune 500 companies. At some point, the pipeline breaks when women strive for the top.

How Do We Bridge the Gap?

At Equita Financial Network, we have spent a lot of time researching and brainstorming solutions to this issue. To find answers, we decided to get input from the women we felt could speak to it best: our peers in the field.

We reached out to fellow female planners to find out what they felt our industry lacked in terms of representation, and what they would find most valuable to their business. Time and again, we heard the same answer: a collaborative network of like-minded women who led similar planning firms.

Their responses made sense to us — after all, there’s a reason the old adage, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know,” is repeated so often in business. Networking is a critical piece of the puzzle and is essential to women’s professional success — especially in the financial services industry, which is built around relationships.

A network provides the support, mentorship, and collaboration women need to climb the ladder. Women who already hold influential positions at their firms can help advise others as they progress through their careers, especially when they reach major milestones or decisions, such as interviewing for a partner position or breaking away to start their own practice.

But there’s the underlying problem: These networks often don’t exist for women at financial planning firms.

The Missing Piece

Instinctively, we tend to relate to, mentor, collaborate, and advocate for people that share similar mindsets, histories, and personalities. But, because our industry is primarily led by men, women tend to be excluded from these all-important networks and opportunities — which is what has kept so many of us from achieving top leadership positions at our respective firms.

This is what drove our co-founders to start their own financial planning practices and, ultimately, what led to the creation of Equita Financial Network. At Equita, we understand how valuable women’s opinions, ideas, and experiences are to our profession, especially when it comes to serving clients and their unique needs.

Through our resources and programs such as the Advisory Women’s Exchange (AWE), we rely on research and insights from women in our industry to address the issues that are most critical to career success. We offer our members peer-to-peer mentorship, coaching, and experiential exercises to encourage professional growth and share best practices.

The Key to Women’s Empowerment Is…Women

In her 2016 article for the Harvard Business Review, Anne Welsh McNulty proclaimed:

“Don’t underestimate the power of women connecting and supporting each other at work.”

We couldn’t agree more with Anne’s take on the topic because we’ve seen, firsthand, what happens when women come together to bypass systemic biases and create their own vision of success.

We have dedicated our professional lives to providing the missing piece that allows women to build successful financial planning firms, which helps retain them in the industry and foster a more inclusive next generation of planners.

When women are in leadership positions, they can control their destiny, get paid what they are worth, and have the support they need to thrive. Are you interested in joining our network? Contact us today.

Author: Equita