The federal government’s Assistant Minister for Women has revealed her top advice for women in finance.
The former lawyer and Liberal Party member, who is also the Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations and Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, put forward her advice for bolstering female representation in the finance industry following a virtual dinner on “How Liberal values can deliver a fair go for Australian women”, hosted by the Aston 200 Club on 8 September.
In the interview – conducted by Paul Stone, the chief executive of short-term business lender HomeSec Business Finance (which sponsored the Aston 200 Club dinner) – the Assistant Minister for Women suggested that a large part of increasing the profile of women in the finance space was increasing the confidence of women already in the space.
When asked what advice and encouragement she would give to professional women in the broking space, she replied with the following pieces of advice:
Invest in yourself
“The first thing you can do is invest in yourself. Become as skilled as you can, as confident as you can and build the skills of relating to one another [and] building the relationships that are necessary to build a client base, or to get the networks you need within your profession to get ahead,” the Assistant Minister for Women said.
Help others and ask for help
“You also need to help each other. Some of the best help you can give to those in your profession is just to build another woman up. And you can do that whether you’re a bloke or whether you’re a woman,” she added.
Ms Stoker revealed that some of the greatest help she had received in her professional growth had been from men in the profession, adding: “There was no shortage of people who wanted to see women succeed. Sometimes you needed to ask for that help, but it was there if you needed it.”
The Assistant Minister for Women concluded that the third piece of advice was to “just back yourself”.
“You need to do a great job and you need to bring it. But if you’re prepared to do that and prepared to make the investment that’s needed in yourself, the professional qualifications and in the personal skills, there’s no reason why you can’t do really well in whatever you set your mind to,” Ms Stoker said.
“But don’t hesitate to reach out and build relationships of mentors and mentees, and with people who you admire. It’s rewarding for them to be able to give something back. And it’s rewarding for you to be able to draw upon the experience of somebody who’s done this before.”
Drop the façade
When asked for her advice on how women can build resilience and confidence in a male-dominated workplace, the former barrister and DPP prosecutor quoted former US first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, saying: “No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
She continued: “If you feel intimidated, it’s something you're allowing to happen, whether it’s by being under-prepared or not building your confidence in what you do enough. I’m big on the personal responsibility aspect of that. And we can all play an active role in making ourselves better and better all the time.
“It’s not easy, nothing worth doing is easy. And I think one of the kindest things women can do for other women is be honest about the fact that you might look like you’ve got it all together, but actually your house is filthy and you probably got too much dry shampoo in your hair, and it’s probably time to take out the dry cleaning and all of those things…
“Nobody’s perfect and we’re all works in progress. But I think if we drop the façade of perfection and we’re a little bit more real about it, it would make it easier for other women who are starting out to see that their goals are very achievable and a political contribution for those women who want one is very achievable.
“You’ve got to work hard and that’s true of anything worth doing, but it is very much within reach.”
Women help contribute to ‘the overall level of professionalism’
Speaking to The Adviser following the interview, HomeSec CEO Mr Stone said that he was committed to championing women in finance.
Mr Stone said: “As a lender, I’ve seen first hand the great work that comes from the growing number of female professionals in the finance industry.
“The strong presence of more and more women in finance has seen the overall level of professionalism lift right across the industry.
“Plus, I make no secret of the fact that it never ceases to amaze me how super-organised and focused our female counterparts are.”
The HomeSec Business Finance CEO added that the interview was one of several conversations and meetings he had held with members of the Morrison government to represent and showcase the work of the mortgage and broker community.
Mr Stone told The Adviser: “Since joining the industry in 2004, I’ve met and befriended so many fantastic, hardworking, honest brokers. When the banking royal commission findings were handed down [in 2019], my heart sank for these men and women who have worked so hard to build their brokering businesses, only to potentially have their livelihoods smashed.
“It was just three months from a federal election so I immediately started speaking with Government MPs to really ram home the unfair aspects in the royal commission,” he said, adding that he had also attended several town hall meetings with politicians to ask them “in front of a room full of voters, what they plan to do to safeguard these livelihoods”.
You can watch the full interview conducted by Paul Stone with Amanda Stoker and Education and Youth Minister Alan Tudge, below.