It’s no secret that the team at mm* enjoy an occasional knees-up and celebration amongst good company. So, when a thoughtful invite to join the team at Pepper Money for an evening of such activities was extended, we donned our best (most inappropriate in Fran’s case*) dancing shoes and headed to London.
The event in question was Financial Reporter’s first ever Women’s Recognition Awards (FRWRA). Launched with the mission “to support the growing momentum for a more diverse and equal financial services community”, the FRWRA saw women and men from financial services of all shapes, sizes and locations descend on the Roundhouse in Camden, to celebrate women’s outstanding contribution to the industry.
The awards follow the introduction of HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter working to build a more balanced and fair financial industry. The aspirations of this charter are to see gender balance at all levels and companies that pledge are committed to three key points to ensure gender diversity, which you can find out more about here.
On hearing about this new addition to the events calendar, my first thought was “that’s fantastic”, which was very quickly followed by “but why?”. Despite knowing that this was an amazing thing that Financial Reporter was doing to uplift and celebrate those who truly deserve to be, I couldn’t suppress this small flicker of frustration that it has to be done at all. Why should there be a need for a separate event? Why is it that women are still struggling to be recognised alongside men, within the traditional awards and categories?
I wasn’t alone in my thoughts. As it transpired, this was a common theme of conversation throughout the night – not only amongst the crowd, but also with the event organisers and guest host Michelle Dewberry (second series winner of The Apprentice, consultant, tech businesswoman and general all-round boss), who all spoke frankly about the inequality that women are still facing specifically within (but not limited to) their careers.
From the infamous pay gap to the number of women at board level (let alone the barriers that have to be overcome along the career path to make those roles accessible), the path to equality is still a long one to walk (approximately 170 years, if you follow the World Economic Forum). But what I loved about FRWRA was the focus that this path is very much being walked (stormed more like). And whilst yes, it’s frustrating that a women’s-only awards event is still necessary, it gives voice (and a positive one at that) to the ultimate goal that one day such requirements will be obliterated and glass ceilings smashed.
As one of the winners suggested:
“Whilst some might argue that they want to compete on an even playing field and thus dislike the idea of ‘women only’ events, the fact of the matter is that we cannot have an even playing field until there are enough players on both sides!”
From being unapologetic for your ambition, to accepting that, actually yes, you are totally badass at your job (and just being you), to having the courage to apply for a job you’d otherwise convinced yourself you aren’t qualified enough for, the evening was full of messages and sentiments that uplifted and motivated the entire building. And the atmosphere was incredible.
So, as we cheered and celebrated every woman nominated and awarded, the evening made me reflect on my own challenges because, well, I’m a woman. But more significantly, it made me proud of all the amazing women in my life and career that are total bosses, and the men who are completely on board and championing that.
After an evening of great company, food, music and dancing (we look to you Gavin), we slipped (much relieved) into our flats and headed back to the rural countryside revitalised and excited about the future of females.
Thanks very much to the team at Pepper Money!
* That’s what flip-flops are for, no?