Sponsorship and Mentoring for Women in Finance Event

30 April 2019

A report on the CMI Women event held in April 2019.

Sponsorship helps to open doors and clear the obstacles which can be in the way of women’s progressions. Only 11% of FTSE 100 CFO’s are Women.

This event was aimed at women in finance and structured for a deep discussion with questions and answer to the panel by the audience. Tracy Vegro opened and introduced the topic of gender pay gap. We then heard from CMI’s CEO Anne Francke who spoke in more detail about the gender pay gap and highlighted the commonalities within companies making progress which includes, reward bonus, diverse recruitment, flexible working and transparency.

The four pillars of good governance:

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At present only 8 % of FTSE is complying with the gender pay gap. In order to close the gender pay gap the pillars of good governance needs to be actioned. It is a recommendation that this should be made mandatory and noncompliance of organisations should face a fine.

Differences between sponsorship, mentoring and coaching

Apprenticeships
FRC/CMI have put on the event for promoting more women in leadership. Established organisations which do not embrace change and culture diversity often struggle!  

SKY UK sponsor Chris Stylianou and his sponsee Fiona Morgan then gave us an insight into the model which they are currently using at SKY to sponsor women leaders within the organisation. This sponsorship programme is being used to increase the women leadership. The programme involves 20 executives and 200 talented women.  They went on to explain how this is working for them as a team and how they implemented this with the assistance of their HR. 

The panel of five then gave the audience further insights into how sponsorship works: Tracy Vegro, Lucinda Wakefield, Heather Melville, Fiona Morgan, Chris Stylianou and chaired by Anne Francke.

All members of the panel are sponsors and have been sponsored at some point in their career and so they provided valuable insights into their own experiences, and what organisations need to do to in order to help more women into senior finance positions, equally how confidence and assertiveness are key to career progressions.


The themes coming out from the discussion was:  

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The benefits for the sponsor is that there is good talent management, better visibility and promotion of people engagement. As a personal sponsee the benefits seen are the development of skills such as learning to be succinct, valuing the relevance of time, presentation skills and being reliable to doing background research. Whereas the organisations benefits are more promotion of women within the company, more engagement of staff, and better visibility of career and talent development where there is at least 30% promotions for women internally. 

Hence, it is important to display trust in the workplace and to be reliable. Equally, one should aim to demonstrate all of the required skills and talents which you have as you never know who may be watching. It is important not to sit quietly and get on with your work as that does not get you noticed. Speak up and ask questions where appropriate. Know what business aspects the organisation expects from you and do not rely solely on the financial benefits.

Men are needed to champion women in the workplace.  Male sponsors normally act as a PR machine for women and they advocate thier skills and talents. SME’s individuals may need to put themselves forward as there may be no HR to spear head this initiative of sponsorship. Equally exposure to different arenas may help such as volunteering, charitable work, civil service and speaking at events. 

Sometimes organisations can be exclusive rather that inclusive and sometimes it is worth seeking out companies with better leadership for advancements. Organisational cultures should be engaging.

There are many high performing women leaders with a different skillset which needs to be recognised and value all talent. 

Take away tips:
At events – be noticed- Stand up and say you name before asking your questions. 

Be careful of the roles you take on and ensure that it is your agenda and not the companies or the boss. Ensure that people are able to see what you can do – once you have the space and the position do use and take on initiatives and stop asking for permission to do things. Another advice was that you should not waste the sponsors time or CEOs time with long details. They will expect you to have done all of this research and so be specific and relevant. Sometimes sponsors are quietly working in the background, and most of the time they will spot and find you.

Always give to be able to get. Do something valuable to be noticed and do not clock watch.   

Recommendations on closing diversity and closing the gender pay gap were for:

  • Firmer penalties for companies without sufficient progress and for lack of compliance. 
  • Stronger reporting mechanisms
  • Case studies
  • Be a disrupter in your organisation and sponsor diversity
  • Look for diverse talent within your organisation through the many filters
  • Leaders have responsibility to bring through other future leaders

The next event will be Women in STEM – details to be announced.

Thelma Ford-Escobar CMgr FCMI