“Creating an inclusive work culture starts by securing the support and involvement of the organization's senior leaders. Have them sponsor employee resource groups to facilitate learning and cooperation up and down the chain.”
- Vivian Hsu, Director, ETFs and Alternatives, Fidelity Investments Canada
Vivian Hsu, Director, ETFs and Alternatives, Fidelity Investments Canada, says an unexpected benefit of the pandemic is that it has opened people’s minds to flexible work hours and working from home. She says both can help women juggle career aspirations and caregiving demands (for children and elderly family members) as well as support mental health and help women chart their own unique path toward success.
What are some of the challenges women face when they start out in finance and how can they overcome them?
There are already a lot of talented, experienced people in the industry, so newcomers (women and men) can sometimes feel intimidated. One of the challenges I’ve noticed is having the confidence to put yourself forward for new opportunities. Women, in general, tend to strive to achieve perfection a little bit more than men do, which can hold us back. Striving for perfectionism can sometimes leave you with a feeling of self-doubt or fear that you don’t know enough to apply for new roles or take on more responsibility because you haven’t fully perfected your current role. I think being patient with yourself and allowing yourself to make mistakes can help you overcome challenges and reach for new opportunities in your career.
What initiatives are firms implementing to support women in finance?
Firms are implementing a lot of different programs, and there is much we can learn from each other. We have a mentorship program at Fidelity that is a fantastic resource to help women build relationships and seek guidance as they progress in their career. Also, one of our employee resource groups, the Women's Leadership Group, focuses on bringing together all individuals who are passionate about developing and supporting the careers of women. Women can also network beyond their workplaces – for example, through organizations such as Women in ETFs and CFA Society. Taking the initiative to join these programs and groups will help everyone in the long run.
What makes a workplace “women-friendly”?
Women-friendly workplaces actively recruit women, provide women with professional development opportunities, promote talented women from within and build a diverse leadership program for employees. They also create and implement policies to address work-life balance. We're starting to see more and more conversations happening at the business level on these initiatives, which is very encouraging and it shows that we are moving in the right direction.
What lessons learned over the past 10 months will last beyond the pandemic?
Connections are so key in life, but in-person meetings and conversations are not possible in the pandemic. That's why I'm trying to be more deliberate with check-ins, to chat about what’s happening in life as well as work. That will definitely stay with me beyond the pandemic. It helps people de-stress and relax.
What advice do you have for firms that want to ensure they create inclusive workplaces?
Creating an inclusive work culture starts by securing the support and involvement of the organization's senior leaders. Have them sponsor employee resource groups to facilitate learning and cooperation up and down the chain. Create opportunities to truly listen to the diverse voices of your employee population. This allows for the sharing of lived employee experiences, which is the catalyst for driving inclusion work forward from a place of empathy and community.
Why is it important to include women’s voices at the decision-making table?
Research shows that a more diverse board, having women in business leadership roles, can have a positive effect on a company’s bottom line. And it doesn’t just impact a company’s balance sheet. It also helps promote a healthier working environment. Companies with women in decision-making roles have proven they’re better at promoting, retaining and attracting more women, and over time that is what will drive an organization toward being more inclusive. Leading by example is key, as well as having great policies that move you toward your goals. When team members see that the female employee participation rate has increased or that women have seats on corporate boards and executive management teams, they start to become more engaged.
Why should women consider a career in finance?
I believe that there are incredible opportunities and diverse career paths available for women who are considering a career in finance. My first role at Fidelity was in the client service department. After learning more about the industry and developing my skill set, I accepted a role as an analyst on our Institutional team. Today, I am developing product strategy for ETFs and alternatives, but my career at Fidelity has really enabled me to experience so many aspects of the business. Each role has given me the opportunity to go outside my comfort zone and develop new skills. For example, last year I was a panelist and keynote speaker at several industry events; 13 years ago, I could never have pictured myself public speaking.
March 23, 2021