Gender diversity is only a subset of the larger inclusion story and that is what is important to develop the financial services industry, Money Management and Super Review's 2019 Woman of the Year believes.
OneVue’s founder and chief executive, Connie McKeage, took out this year’s award for her commitment to the financial services industry and for going beyond to create more inclusion and diversity in the sector.
McKeage is also one of the board founders of the Financial Executive Women (FEW) which helps further careers for women in financial services through mentoring.
While McKeage said she did not feel disadvantaged by being a woman in financial services, she was a founding member of FEW because she did not believe the industry could make a systemic difference in equality during her lifetime.
“What I can do is influence one woman and one man at a time through FEW. There are also good men at FEW who mentor that genuinely believe in diversity and women,” she said.
“I think I have made a difference to a number of women’s lives by guiding them, giving them confidence in themselves, helping them navigate their careers, and helping them not make excuses when things go wrong so that they understand it happens to both genders.
“Some of my achievements so far are that I’m still in an industry that I love, I’ve created many jobs along the way for people, and I’ve been extremely supportive of talented people regardless of gender.”
McKeage said rather than thinking about gender diversity only, it was more about inclusion such as differences in personality, religious backgrounds and cultural backgrounds.
She said firms in the industry could start by getting employees to stop calling others by colloquial nicknames.
“It’s a particular vernacular that does not apply very well to multiculturalism or mixed genders. It’s what you do every day in an organisation. When people use that language there’s a level of familiarity that means you become part of a club,” she said.
“By virtue of being part of a club you are excluding others because you only use that kind of language when you’re close to somebody, generally.”
The industry veteran for over 35 years, originally from Canada, said if women or anyone at a firm felt like they were not being heard they needed to speak up and say how they feel.
“The reason we don’t speak up is because we’re concerned about our jobs. But the reality is we’re going to leave anyways,” she said.
“The worst thing that will happen is those people don’t listen and then you know it’s not the right place to work at. Often, it’s not about the women or the person, it’s the wrong culture.”
McKeage said she had worked with many men who were unaware of the way they had impacted another woman and when they were told they would make an effort to make the environment more amenable to mixed gender.