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#WomenInFinCrime: ‘Not all that looks different is threatening’ – Top female leaders in FinCrime give their advice for women in the financial sector

By Elizabeth Hearst

The term, “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it”, seems apt to describe this morning’s Women in FinCrime Event, hosted in celebration of International Women’s Day 2021. 

Female industry leaders from across the world tuned in to give their thoughts on women in FinCrime, how to improve diversity across the industry, and what more can be done to promote women in this male-dominated sector. 

Federica Taccogna, Partner at FTI Consulting, described how the industry needed to embrace diversity of thought, in conjunction with gender diversity across the workplace. 

“We need to challenge each other, and challenge the status quo. Women have been invited to the table, but are often ignored when they get there… We need to make a conscious effort and force ourselves to embrace diversity of thought, and realise that not all that looks different is threatening”. 

“Diversity means accepting all people, including those young, with various accents, and from various backgrounds,” she added, “If we all think and act the same way, nothing will ever move forward”. 

“Listen to us. Give us space, and I hope that the next generation won’t have to deal with this in the future,” she concluded. 

Echoing this statement, Jackie King, Executive Director of International Business at IBEC said that there was not a “one-size fits all approach” needed to achieve gender equality in the industry. 

“The issue has to be approached systematically. We need policies, targets and have something to work towards, so having this framework in place does help”, she added. 

Jackie highlighted the need for the industry to “recruit and retain talent”, and described how women fail to promote themselves for higher positions, advocating for male colleagues to form “mentorship and sponsorship” programmes to encourage women in their positions. 

“We need to promote women, not because they are women, but because they are experts”, she added: “Women need to be empowered!” 

Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, has hit the headlines in recent months for her advocacy of maternity leave for members of Parliament. She spoke candidly about the need to attain gender balance across the political and financial sphere. 

“Times are changing, and barriers to women are fading away”, she said. Citing President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, and European Commissioner for Financial Stability and Services, Mairead McGuinness’ appointment in recent months. 

“We need to increase diversity in corporate governance”, as it results in “more effective decision making”, she added: “We should never apologise for making a conscious decision to promote women or put women forward… We need to be bold”. 

A morning spent in the presence of top female experts in financial crime, risk and compliance, business and politics provides an insight that times are changing. 

Bold and ambitious women have made waves in traditional male-dominated industries across the world, and although we still have some way to go to achieve gender balance, there has been a lot done, but a lot more still to do. 

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