Women in Business: Why I’m excited to take my space in the C-Suite by Rana

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So, I thought I would make my first ever blog for YWCA Scotland (how exciting!) veer towards a topic I am pretty passionate about, having recently gained a lot more exposure to it.

I, like so many of my fellow business school peers, am currently looking to work in the financial services industry after I graduate university this year, and so I undertook two internships in the Big 4 last summer. This has really given me an insight into the truth behind women and their role in the financial services work-space.

Women in Business is such a relevant and topical movement for so many driven, aspiring and motivated young women. In general, when we think of these big financial firms – think banks, accountancies and consulting firms – we tend (or at least I do!) to picture a boardroom full of males with no desire to increase the number of women in the room.

The C-Suite in my eyes is always filled with men. I picture companies that prefer to hire men as they are “better with numbers”, “less emotional” and won’t “cost the company” in taking time off for children.

These beliefs always seem to be supported in some way or another by facts and figures that seem pretty shocking, such as there being no change in the number of women in British boardrooms in 10 years (The Guardian) or around only 4% of Fortune 500’s CEO’s being female (Fortune). Despite this, we have to start somewhere – and here is where we are starting.

When I began researching companies that I wanted to start an internship and potentially a career with, I never really believed that the claims of all of these huge multinational companies citing their newly reformed principles of “dedication to women” in the workplace, “flexible time” to accommodate for childcare and “increasing gender equality” in their firm would genuinely be true.

It just seemed so easy and superficial for such a huge company to say they are dedicated to something on the outside, when they are not really working on that on the inside. It is often hard to know if these firms in a traditionally untrustworthy industry are being truthful, or saying something for the sake of looking good and building their reputation.

However, upon my first internship with one of the Big 4 accountancy firms, I can honestly say I was astounded. Not only did this particular firm live up to all of what their website had to offer, they exceeded it. Working in the audit department, I had no idea how many women would be present in every room with me – women of all levels.

I saw women being given promotions, women leading high-stake pitches, women being confident and outspoken as well as women being truly encouraged to push themselves in the office and out in specific women’s networks.

For me, this is one of the most motivating factors to work for any company – I must believe in their genuine dedication to women, and actually getting to see the proof in the pudding through these inspiring women sold it for me!

On my second internship with another Big 4 company, the proof was not in the pudding – it was in the name. My “Women in Business” internship was another fantastic experience with a firm who, like others, claimed to be promoting women in the workplace and encouraging more women to step into the financial services industry.

This internship allowed me to get a first-hand look at how women have found life in this industry and was completely orientated around allowing me to spend parts of every day with a different woman of a different level or department.

What this showed me was that every single woman I spoke to was able to confidently tell me how much they loved their job, their colleagues and their company. The women were proud to be part of a company that was actively seeking to increase the number of women in the business, and being involved in schemes like this Women in Business internship is what led some of them to where they are now.

So… getting to the point of this blog (sorry for waffling!): I wanted to write this to show any young woman who wants to work for a (potentially intimidating) financial services company, that yes, they are big, but no, they are not scary! These firms are (from my perspective) genuinely encouraging and motivating of women, and they are really pushing for gender equality in their work.

The financial services industry is open to us and is something that I am excited (and hope you can be too!) about entering and knowing just how far we can progress in these types of firms.

So, with that… I shall hope to see YOU in the C-Suite!

Rana is a fourth year student at the University of Edinburgh studying Business with Marketing. She is currently writing her dissertation on American Apparel and its impacts of sexualised advertising on young women – relevant! In her spare time she enjoys travelling, fit box and nutrition (if you can count a glass of red a day as healthy…). She is passionate about raising awareness on the promotion of gender balance in business. Find her on instragram @Rsaneie.

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