Chase de Vere is a great believer in equal opportunities, as our recent awards short listings testify.
Meghan Markle will doubtless find motherhood highly challenging but, unlike thousands of other women, she will at least be spared the dilemmas involved with having to juggle her new responsibilities with the demands of a return to the office.
Having a 20-month-old son myself, I can assure you that combining being a mum with a career requires a massive adjustment, and its definitely not something that I could have managed without having such a supportive employer.
Chase de Vere has been flexible enough to allow me to return part-time after taking a year’s maternity leave and to tailor my hours to suit. Sometimes, for example, I have to knock off earlier than I used to but I can often finish off what I was working on once little Alexander is in bed.
Our organisation is highly conscious of the need for equal opportunities and believes that anyone who is good enough should have the right to succeed regardless of gender, race or background. So, we have a range of ongoing initiatives to further these objectives.
I am, for example, a member of an internal forum that tackles challenges faced by women in financial services with the aim of attracting more female advisers into the industry. I am especially involved with issues with helping mothers achieving a suitable work/life balance.
As part of this challenge we are striving to make the whole process of coming back to work after maternity leave clearer, passing on tips from other female advisers who have already done so.
But, unfortunately, the percentage of female financial services industry leaders globally remains at only 12% ¹, which suggests that many other financial organisations claiming to have diversity initiatives are doing little more than paying lip service.
In particular, stereotypes surrounding the types and roles available in financial circles have played their part in discouraging women from entering the workforce, making recruiting and retaining female talent increasingly more difficult.
Our determination to tackle these issues head-on has been well attested to by our recent stellar performance in the 2019 Women in Finance Awards – which celebrates the individuals and organisations leading change, breaking down barriers and creating possibilities for equal representation in the world of finance.
Chase de Vere has no fewer than four finalists in these prestigious awards, and a couple of these are up for gongs in more than one category. The winners will be announced at an award ceremony at the Hilton London Bankside Hotel on July 3rd, and we obviously all have our fingers crossed.
Helen Hunter, an independent financial adviser (IFA) in our Basingstoke office, has been shortlisted in both the Financial Adviser of the Year (South East) and Woman of the Year – Retirement Planning categories, and Catriona Smith, an IFA in our Glasgow office, has been shortlisted in the Financial Adviser of the Year (Scotland and NI) and Woman of the Year – Retirement Planning categories.
Justine Fearns, senior research manager in our portfolio management team in Bath, has been shortlisted in Woman of the Year – Investments category, and I, for my sins, have been shortlisted in the Most Inspiring Return category.
Gender equality is also an issue well beyond the confines of financial services, with causes of concern – in addition to the impact of motherhood on careers – ranging from lack of quality part-time work to unconscious bias against women in senior roles.
Employers in virtually all industries should be wary of legal action that can result, especially in the area of equal pay. A particular issue is that some roles carried out by men have been incorrectly viewed by society as meriting higher pay.
If employees are not paid equally to someone of the opposite gender doing the same work it can lead to an equal pay claim, which can result in having to pay up to six years’ pay differential ². Although this only applies to contractual benefits like pay, pensions and holidays, discrepancies in non-contractual benefits can still lead to a sex discrimination claim.
Conducting an equal pay audit can help protect against such litigation, and experts commonly recommend basing this on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s equal pay guidance.