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Celebrating women in finance | Women of Wilsons
Fri 25th June, 2021

For International Women's Day 2021, we launched the Women of Wilsons campaign to celebrate Wilsons' wonderful and powerful women. IWD provided an essential opportunity for us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in our firm, to acknowledge how far we've come in creating equal pathways and how much there is still to do.

Women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions – just 1 of the 25 CEOs appointed to lead ASX 200 organisations in the past year was female. Women hold only 14.6% of chair positions, 28.1% of directorships, and represent only 18.3% of CEOs.

This past year, marked by crisis and uncertainty, also disproportionally affected women. COVID-19 intensified the social and economic challenges women face, with increased job insecurity being one of the significant fallouts. Women, especially women of colour, are more likely to have been laid off due to the pandemic.

As part of our WoW campaign, we asked our employees to provide insight into important topics such as why it's essential to have women in leadership, the best ways to find mentors, unfair stereotypes and what International Women's Day means to them.

Tara Ross

Private Wealth

Do you have a female role model?

My sister, she is superwoman, she has proven to me that successful women can have a career while still being an amazing Mum.

Are there any assumptions about women that you would like to change? Why?

That people think we need to or want to be compared to men.

How can young women find mentors? How do we ask for mentoring?

The same way young men can find mentors:

  • Understand what kind of person you want to be
  • Define your values and beliefs
  • Put yourself out there, network with people who have shared values
  • Ask, it’s actually pretty easy.

Greta Smart

Corporate Finance 

How can young women find mentors? How do we ask for mentoring?

I don’t think women need to limit themselves to female mentors. I choose my mentors based on who I have seen accomplish the goals I have set for myself (whether it be family friends, mutual friends, relatives etc) and do not see being a woman as limiting my ability to achieving the same goals. It’s as simple as asking them for a coffee.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Confidence may get you far, but just because someone is the most confidence person in the room does not mean they are any more intelligent or capable than their peers.

Why do we need more women in leadership?

We need more women in leadership because they are able to provide perspectives that are more representative of half of the population. Having women involved in decision making processes ensures crucial decisions which will have a direct impact women aren’t made based on assumptions and stereotypes about women.

What do you think are the biggest issues facing women today?

To be comfortable and confident asking for what they want and not just accepting no for an answer.

On International women's Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

Just because an industry is male-dominated, does not mean it will remain this way. Be the change you want to see!

James Ferrier

Equity Research

What advice would you give women struggling in a male dominated industry?

Network with other female executives in your industry. Share experiences and advice.

How can women develop a long-term career plan? Who do we talk to? Get advice from?

Start with what interests you and which industries / companies / roles are aligned with your interests, and how much of your time you’d like to allocate to your career. Identify relevant business leaders and use your network or just cold call to seek advice.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Ask more questions.

What barriers have you seen women face in becoming successful in their field? How did they overcome them?

A perception that women don’t place as much importance on their career as men. Overcoming this barrier requires one to demonstrate commitment to your career, but also an employer providing appropriate flexibility and opportunities.

Why do we need more women in leadership?

It presents more diversity, which broadens ideas / styles / thinking, and ultimately enhances outcomes.

Michelle Navaratne


How can women better enable each other instead of compete? What needs to change in your opinion?

We need to stop being so divisive amongst each other, comparing ourselves to one other, being jealous over insignificant things, excluding each other because they are not ‘our people’. What I mean by this, we have to stop judging and comparing ourselves based on looks, weight, race, age, clothes, wealth, status, career, guys, whatever. Each woman has had to face their own battles regardless of what I have outlined in my last sentence. We need to band together and share these stores with kindness and empathy.

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism means having the choice to pursue whatever you feel like but also given the equal opportunity to have access to those choices. Feminism means not being pigeon-holed into a certain career, job or livelihood and not being judged by peers, family, society for pursuing a non-conventional standard for women. Feminism DOES NOT MEAN “Can women have it all?” (I personally find this question asked of women offensive as no one would ever ask a man the same question).

What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the generation of woman behind you?

The detrimental effects of social media on a woman’s sense of self-worth and their mental health, particularly if content posted on social media relate to issues of acceptance, inclusivity and body image issues.

Why do we need more women in leadership?

Empathy. Empathy for people, as employees and clients. In a previous job (not at Wilsons!) a senior financial adviser said of his female client, “At her age, she’ll never find anyone”. Really?!?!? She’s paying you money to manage her finances and you’re talking about her like that! We also need more women in leadership so that they are visible in society and gives young girls out there suitable role models to aspire to. In addition; more women need to be in leadership as women’s’ issues such as gender-specific health conditions, raising a family, equal pay, are not being discussed or realised in upper management.

What do you think are the biggest issues facing women today?

  • Income/wage discrepancies between men and women, particularly at retirement and if women go on mat leave or leave the workforce for a few years to raise young children.
  • Social media pressure to look a certain way, fit in with society.
  • Society’s treatment of sexual assault/rape cases of women

Rachel Sheehan


What’s your favourite thing about being a woman?

The ability to be emotionally intune.

What advice would you give women struggling in a male dominated industry?

Know and believe in your truth and learn the how to adapt and overcome.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Do something that makes you happy and always work hard.

Why do we need more women in leadership?

Women will always have a different perspective and approach to situations, which will create a difference in culture and a more holistic style of management.

What do you think are the biggest issues facing women today?

Being heard and respected for our opinions.

    About Wilsons: Wilsons is a financial advisory firm focused on delivering strategic and investment advice for people with ambition – whether they be a private investor, corporate, fund manager or global institution. Its client-first, whole of firm approach allows Wilsons to partner with clients for the long-term and provide the wide range of financial and advisory services they may require throughout their financial future. Wilsons is staff-owned and has offices across Australia.

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