When Paying it Forward Comes Full Circle
Co-Head of U.S. Fixed Income Institutional Sales, Tradeweb
As we present our second annual class of Break Through Leaders with their awards, we’re highlighting the importance of mentorship and advocacy. The Break Through Leader awards are designed to recognize women who are breaking down barriers and innovating in the financial industry and who are passionate about moving our markets forward. That said, as women gain a greater share of leadership roles, advocacy and mentorship will continue to play a crucial role for women throughout every stage of their careers.
This year, we asked our award recipients to bring an advocate or mentor to our event honoring these incredible women—recognizing that professional and personal support goes a long way for the most junior to the most senior women. Having a trusted network and sounding board can also help foster and spark innovation, a key theme among our Break Through Leaders.
Personally, I have found that my career path at Tradeweb has been shaped by several advocates who have vouched for my work ethic and passion to get the best results not only for the firm and our clients, but for our own employees, as well. Advocating for someone comes in many different forms. I’ve experienced the power of advocacy myself—the support I’ve received, from my manager and peers to senior leadership, has played an instrumental role in my career development. Bottom line—recognizing good work can go beyond just your immediate team.
As we look forward to a more diverse and inclusive future, it’s important to know that appreciation and support can be very impactful for someone’s career. Here are a few themes that play a significant role in female mentorship and advocacy.
While women supporting women in their careers is imperative, male advocates are key pieces to the puzzle. Addressing gender disparity can be uncomfortable, but our male counterparts can help level the playing field for women. One Break Through Leader honoree, Nicole Dunham, Deputy Head of U.S. Wealth Management Fixed Income at RBC, highlights key traits of a male advocate in her career, saying, “He provides me with opportunities to spread my wings, to build a new team, to work on cross-functional projects, and to pursue big, bold ideas that benefit the broader organization.”
Often times finding a male advocate happens organically, and having open, honest conversations about career progression can help move the industry forward. One way for men to become more actively involved is recruiting and including them in women’s employee networking groups and events. Involving men in open discussions about the challenges women can face in the workplace can help foster a more inclusive workplace. Nicole adds, “When I participated in a grassroots effort to launch a women’s employee resource group at our organization, my male advocate not only supported me in doing it, he raised his hand to be our executive sponsor. Since the creation of our group, Women Empowered, he has advocated for men across the organization to join and today 40% of our membership consists of male allies.”
A Two-Way Street
One may think that a mentorship relationship only benefits the mentee as they seek guidance in a budding career. But that’s not the case. Yes, mentees gain a sense of empowerment, networking and growth opportunities, education about the company and industry, and a chance to build their communication skills from the mentor. On the other hand, mentors get a fresh perspective from up-and-comers and can plant their flags as leaders at their firm. It also can help establish a deeper connection to the company for both the mentor and mentee.
Coming Full Circle
A recent Deloitte study¹ found that for every woman added to the C-suite, three more women were elevated to senior leadership—referred to as the multiplier effect. So, as we continue to see this phenomenon, and young stars rise, more female mentorship relationships can develop and advocacy can flourish. And as mentees rise up through the ranks, they’ll likely feel more inclined to support women early in their careers as they see the benefits of the added support. Companies would be wise to establish formal mentorship programs to help fuel a diverse and inclusive workplace.
To bring this full circle, we’re inspired by our Break Through Leaders who have worked tirelessly to push our industry forward in terms of the work they do, the innovation they bring to the table and bridging the gender gap.
1. “Leadership, representation, and gender equity in financial services” Deloitte, 2021