To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, we spoke to Sandra Kelly, HR Manager at Munich Re – Automation Solutions about gender balance and inclusivity in financial services. Sandra shares her thoughts on the evolving role of women in the industry and how to drive diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace, and provides valuable advice for women starting their careers in financial services.
1) TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAREER IN FINANCIAL SERVICES. WHAT ARE YOU PROUD OF?
I’m most proud of being part of a small Irish start-up and seeing it grow and expand over the years into the successful company it is today.
2) IN RECENT YEARS, HOW HAS THE ROLE OF WOMEN EVOLVED IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY?
I think attitudes towards women are changing in industry generally. We have a lot more successful senior female leaders and CEOs who are helping to change the business landscape. Women can now nurture their own careers along with raising families. The more diverse the workforce the better and data suggests that companies who support diversity are more successful.
3) HAS COVID-19 HAD AN IMPACT ON GENDER BALANCE AND INCLUSIVITY IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY?
In my opinion, possibly it has with regard to children and home-schooling etc. Often women take on more of the domestic duties which may have become more of a factor with so many people working from home.
4) WHAT CAN BE DONE TO FURTHER DRIVE GENDER BALANCE AND INCLUSIVITY IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY?
Ensure the right policies are in place which help prevent discrimination of people who choose to avail of family leave policies and promote more flexible working practices. Adapting appropriate recruitment policies and training employees in these areas are key to driving good D&I practices.
5) HOW DO YOU/YOUR COMPANY PROACTIVELY CREATE AN INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE?
We have D&I workstreams in place and we are currently working on initiatives we can implement within the organisation under the inclusion workstream. We still have a long way to go but have made a start and this area is a key part of the business strategy.
6) WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN STARTING THEIR CAREERS IN FINANCIAL SERVICES?
Go for it! There are lots of great opportunities in this industry and lots of different career paths one can take. Be confident in your own ability and take every opportunity when it arrives. Keep working on development opportunities and progressing yourself. Companies now have great initiatives in place particularly around D&I, working from home and hybrid working, so there is more flexibility than ever for all employees.