WIM promoting gender diversity in Qatar’s financial sector

Lani Rose R Dizon/ The Peninsula

The Women in Investment Management (WIM), a global initiative under the Chartered Financial Analyst Society (CFA) Doha, seeks to promote gender diversity in the financial sector by including the men, particularly decision makers such as company leaders and HR officials, in the discussion.

According to the latest edition of Women in Financial Services 2020 report by Oliver Wyman, the industry is finally making progress on gender diversity in the global workforce. But that progress, 20 percent representation of women on executive committees and 23 percent on boards, is not enough. There is still a long way to go to create a financial services industry in which women have equal access to opportunity and positive outcomes, the report added.

European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde, who is also the first female chief in the ECB’s history, in an interview with the French economics weekly Challenges on Friday, reiterated that there are still too few women in management worldwide, particularly in the economic and financial spheres, including central banks. She added that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem, and went on to highlight that 19 of the eurozone central banks are all run by men; while only two women, including her, were on the ECB’s 25-member governing council.

“It’s quite difficult for women to advance to leadership roles. And that’s one of the reasons why we are trying to include the HR managers in the discussion. Personally, I don’t believe in quota system. I believe in merits, on deserving something and having equal rights. And it has been proven that implementing a quota system may promote people who really don’t add value. I think equality in everything is the solution. The right woman, the right person, is what really matters,” Andrada Bilaus, who works as a Wealth Adviser at HSBC, said during an interview with The Peninsula recently.

Yasmine Ismail, who works as a Senior Credit Analyst at Barwa Bank Group, added that many women also hesitate to take advantage of the available opportunities in the industry. “They do not even try. They think they would not get accepted, or they do not fit the position because they cannot compete with other men in the field. Others hesitate because of the high work-life demands. But through CFA, we empower women and encourage them. They have better opportunities, and they can do better. They only need to be confident,” said Yasmine.

She added that some organisations also have their own biases. “Some organisations think that women don’t fit in a certain position because of social or cultural barriers. For example, ‘we want someone who will meet with men at any place at any time and who will travel with them for business events’. And the issue of networking was one of the problems we discovered among women during our gatherings. Men usually network more than women. And we’re trying to help women solve their problems with networking by holding such events for them. Because networking actually helps a lot in finding jobs and greater opportunities,” Yasmine added.

True enough, the group has already helped a number of women gain confidence in overcoming their own challenges in the field. Dhabya Al Kaabi, the first Qatari woman CFA charter holder, said: “When I joined the Qatar Investment Authority, they encouraged us to take the certification. A lot of Qatari men have had it before, and now we see more Qatari women also taking up the CFA certification. I have been with WIM for one year now, and the networking events have really helped me. Actually, I used to have problems about presentations. I feel shy when talking to a new group of people. But through WIM initiatives, I developed my confidence and presentation skills.

“We also meet women who have already reached high positions sharing with us how they achieved their goals and overcame the challenges along the way. And I noticed that women who have reached high positions actually like what they do. They give their best, and when they give their best they can achieve whatever they set their sights on. This inspires me to improve myself and grow professionally,” she added.

Soumya Sasidharan, who is in charge of financial reporting at Hill International, was inspired by her father who worked as a banker to take up a career in finance. She added: “Maintaining work life balance is a bit difficult in the financial sector especially because you have a lot of deadlines to meet. I make sure that I utilise my time at work efficiently and effectively so that the work gets done on time. My current and previous employers also give me the flexibility where I can also work from home. I want to progress further in the finance sector as well as specialise in financial reporting. And meeting women business leaders have been an inspiration for us. We learn how to deal with challenges from their stories”.

The CFA certification is considered to be the most prestigious professional certification in investment management. To date, there are only about 150,000 CFA holders worldwide. Mohamed Fahim, Board Member at CFA Society Doha and WIM sponsor, said: “One of the initiatives at WIM is to boost women participation in the marketplace. Studies have proven that if you have gender diversity in the workplace, you get a probability of 21 percent increase in company performance. We want to do whatever it takes, be it social or educational events, to connect women together and see what the ladies need in the market”.

Fahim added that the group continues to invite prominent women leaders in Qatar who share their insights and stories to continually inspire women to grow further in their careers.

Source from: The peninsula Qatar