Making More Money With Diversity

&l;p&g;&l;img class=&q;size-large wp-image-552&q; src=&q;×1200.jpg?width=960&q; alt=&q;&q; data-height=&q;1200&q; data-width=&q;1200&q;&g; Jennifer Litwin

I began my career in the foreign exchange group of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York over two decades ago. I was very lucky that I had three female bosses while I was there, and that I had two very good male mentors. When I would attend meetings or dinners with foreign exchange professionals at broker dealers and banks, however, I was almost always one of the very few women and certainly the only minority.

Fortunately, there are more women in financial services now, but a lot more should be done to recruit, retain, and promote them, not only because demographics in the US have changed significantly, but because it helps financial institutions&a;rsquo; bottom line. For the last five years, I have led or participated in &l;span&g;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;TradeTech FX&l;/a&g;&l;/span&g;&l;span&g; panels. Every year there has been a women&a;rsquo;s breakfast to enable both women and men an opportunity to speak not only about challenges for women in the foreign exchange (FX) market, but how to attract and retain more women in what is still a very &l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;male dominated environment&l;/a&g;.&a;nbsp; &l;/span&g;

&l;span&g;I have been pleased to see that every year, there is an increasing number of very talented women who come to the TradeTech FX conference.&a;nbsp; This year, the women&a;rsquo;s session was upgraded from an early morning breakfast to a well-attended full-fledged afternoon event. Additionally, the second day of the conference there was a very interesting fireside chat, featuring &l;/span&g;Morgan Stanley Executive Director, Head of Americas MSET Macro Sales, &l;span&g;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Melanie Cristi&l;/a&g;, &a;ldquo;&l;/span&g;How to embrace diversity and inclusion to enrich the workplace and make this your competitive advantage.&a;rdquo;&l;span&g;&a;nbsp; Both events were led by &l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Greenwich Associates&l;/a&g;&a;rsquo; &l;/span&g;Senior Vice President, Head of Relationship Management,&l;span&g; &l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Jennifer Litwin&l;/a&g;.&l;/span&g;

&l;img class=&q;size-large wp-image-553&q; src=&q;×1111.jpg?width=960&q; alt=&q;&q; data-height=&q;1111&q; data-width=&q;1200&q;&g; Fireside chat with Melanie Cristi and Jennifer Litwin

This year, not only were there more women who attended the sessions at TradeTech FX, the women were more diverse in terms of ethnicity and ages. &a;ldquo;It&a;rsquo;s fairly well established that diverse is not the first adjective that comes to mind when thinking about professionals in our industry,&a;rdquo; said &l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Litwin&l;/a&g; &a;ldquo;but I will give props where due – this room looks better and better every year.&a;rdquo; It is important to start changing the conversation in foreign exchange markets and in the financial industry as a whole. Often, when people hear the word diversity, it is accompanied by the word challenging. Instead, Litwin would like &a;ldquo;to help mold the perception that we should all start associating the words, &s;making more money&s; with &s;diversity.&s;

Typically, it is common to understand and report on demographic diversity, such as gender, age, ethnicity or religion. But Litwin believes that &a;ldquo;attention should also be paid to &l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;cognitive diversity&l;/a&g;&l;strong&g;.&a;rdquo;&l;/strong&g; Examples of cognitive diversity include &a;ldquo;training, education, personality, and functional knowledge.&a;rdquo;&a;nbsp; This means that financial institutions should include people who have different styles of problem-solving and who can offer unique perspectives, because they think differently and have a wide variety of skill sets. Litwin is certainly a perfect living example of this. Before being a professional in financial services for over 20 years ago, she was an opera singer.&a;nbsp; Anyone who has ever been as lucky as I have to hear her voice cannot help feel that opera fans lost a diva.

Her strong work ethos, attention to detail, and ability to understand people from different backgrounds provide her a great ability to manage a team of ten relationship development professionals. Her group is comprised of 55% women. &a;ldquo;A more interesting statistic&a;rdquo; says Litwin, &a;ldquo;is our wide spread in age– from recent college graduate to long-time industry veteran. &a;ldquo;

Litwin has been leading discussion about women, diversity and inclusion at TradeTech FX for the last four years. She believes that &a;ldquo;having a variety of backgrounds, personalities and individual perspectives obviously bring various points of view to discussions. These different perspectives bring different ways of problem solving. &a;nbsp;There may be those who are more apt to use intuition, and some may test out ideas in a more systematic way. The important thing is that it contributes to a team&a;rsquo;s ability to innovate, predict, evaluate, verify, and ultimately make strategic decisions. A high level of cognitive diversity means the team has a large repertoire of tools to solve problems and to be more profitable. The more challenging the task, the more valuable cognitive diversity becomes.&a;rdquo;

&l;img class=&q;size-large wp-image-556&q; src=&q;×1391.jpg?width=960&q; alt=&q;&q; data-height=&q;1391&q; data-width=&q;1200&q;&g; Dr. Kathryn Kaminski, AlphaSimplex, and Jennifer Litwin, Greenwich Associates

The challenge, however, is how do we make diversity in financial services be real and long lasting? Both the women in the afternoon session and Cristi had numerous suggestions:

&l;/p&g;&l;ul&g;&l;li&g;Show your bosses and colleagues research that show the multiple financial and other benefits of diversity, for example: &l;ul&g;&l;li&g;Boston Consulting Group, &a;ldquo;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;How diverse leadership teams boost innovation&l;/a&g;&a;rdquo;&l;/li&g; &l;li&g;Catalyst, &a;ldquo;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Companies with more women directors experience higher financial performance&l;/a&g;&a;rdquo;&l;/li&g; &l;li&g;Diligent &a;ldquo;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;The Importance of Diversity for Good Governance&l;/a&g;&a;rdquo;&l;/li&g; &l;li&g;Forbes, &a;ldquo;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;The Benefits of Cognitive Diversity&l;/a&g;&a;rdquo; and &a;ldquo;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Top 10 Reasons Diversity is Good for the Boardroom&l;/a&g;&a;rdquo;&l;/li&g; &l;li&g;MarketWatch &a;ldquo;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;10 reasons gender diversity can make you money&l;/a&g;&a;rdquo;&l;/li&g; &l;li&g;McKinsey, &a;ldquo;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Delivering growth through diversity&l;/a&g;&a;rdquo; and &a;ldquo;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Why diversity matters&l;/a&g;&a;rdquo;&l;/li&g; &l;li&g;Peterson Institute for International Economics, &a;ldquo;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence From a Global Survey&l;/a&g;&l;/li&g; &l;li&g;Scientific American, &a;ldquo;&l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;How Diversity Makes Us Smarter&l;/a&g;?&a;rdquo;&l;/li&g; &l;/ul&g;&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;Establish your brand. Define who you are and make sure that you find ways for your colleagues to know that you are a dedicated expert in your field.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;Get a mentor, female or male, who can help you navigate political issues at work, and so that you can get promotions.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;Become a mentor. As soon as women are in the workforce, mentor young women in college or primary and secondary schools. Let them know that women can have successful careers in foreign exchange and other types of financial services.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;When faced with a micro aggression, that is, someone who makes you feel that you are too young or the &a;lsquo;wrong&a;rsquo; gender or ethnicity to be in the industry, try humor or explaining calmly to the person that you very much belong in your profession.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;Advocate not just for maternity, but also, paternity leave. If you are the supervisor of men, encourage them to take their paternity leave, so that both maternity and paternity leave are encouraged and so that maternity leave does not adversely impact your career.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;Look for ways to speak at conferences, especially if you see panels that are &a;lsquo;manels.&a;rsquo; Write the women who are at boards of companies organizing conferences, and ask them to encourage more female and minority participation in panels.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;If you are an entrepreneur, look for ways to be quoted in the press. Find ways for journalists not to quote mostly men.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;Always add more technical skills to your resume. Take live or online classes provided by financial education vendors or at universities.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;Network, network, network. Continue networking with the women who have attended TradeTech FX. Network with your college and graduate school alumni associations. And look for professional women&a;rsquo;s networking groups.&l;/li&g;


I look forward to continuing to network with the women at TradeTech FX and look forward to welcoming new ones in coming years.&a;nbsp; I have just learned that Litwin sings the Canadian and US national anthems at the &l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Security Traders Association National Conference&l;/a&g; in DC; with any luck she will sing at TradeTech FX next year.



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