Women in Finance

Emerging stronger from the past to outperform for the future

At EFM, we’re all about making finance a friendlier proposition. First and foremost, this is about offering businesses a cost-effective and workable alternative to employing finance professionals in-house. They bring us in when they need us, and pay only for what they use – no salary bill, no benefits costs, no National Insurance contributions.

That’s already sounding pretty friendly, isn’t it? But we’ve taken it further, because we’ve made finance a friendlier place for our women colleagues and associates to work in, too, by adopting part-time and flexible working methods that fit better with the domestic demands women are so often expected to attend to in addition to their professional responsibilities.

And we believe so strongly that this is the right thing to do that we are actively recruiting more women finance professionals into our organisation than ever before., with eight brought on board in the last six months alone.

Why part-time gets it right

Make no mistake, part-time works for our clients, as well – and not only because the arrangement naturally plays into our overall service approach of emphasising flexible availability over rigid permanence.

Our part-time women finance professionals combine multi-sector experience that is indispensable across a broad range of businesses with a working perspective that also chimes strongly with women clients and businesses whose products or services are essentially women-oriented (lingerie manufacture being one recent example).

But in reality, our initiatives go even deeper than this. In recruiting women finance professionals and giving them the option to work part-time, we are helping to move workplaces beyond historical gender issues and outdated attitudes.

Indeed, just a brief look at what the finance profession has too often been like for women in the past – based on the testimonies of some of our own women professionals – shows how far we’ve come.

Overturning old-fashioned stigma

Take Anne Marie, an experienced finance professional who worked for one of the four largest accounting firms in the world and has held Finance Director positions since the late 1990s.

Despite her vast experience, trying to find a new job after a 3-year break to care for her children was difficult as recruiters were instinctively dismissive of her because she had taken a career break and her domestic responsibilities required her to work part-time.  In the process – and perhaps even more unjustly – they disregarded her proficiency and her credentials, as well as her evident commitment to her previous roles (she had returned to work very quickly after the birth of both her children).

EFM changed all this for Anne Marie. Working part-time with flexible hours to accommodate her work-life commitments, she now delivers on-tap expertise, born of her exceptional finance industry experience, that is much sought after by our clients.

Unconscious bias put in its place

Tracy, who has been running a portfolio of clients with EFM for eight years, sums up the historical challenges for many women in finance when she says she has often encountered unconscious bias about the extent of her competence – and in some instances still does.

“I guess the assumption people make is that I just file tax returns and do tax planning,” she says.

In reality, she is a highly qualified, seasoned financial controller whose responsibilities extend far beyond those assumptions, working across our eclectic and sector-agnostic portfolio of clients.

“Clients like that I bring a ‘bit of grey’ to the game”, she comments – a reference to her vast experience. “I have faced everything they have faced.”

A job then, a career now

Sarah’s past experience of working for a well-known high street bank comes with more than a whiff of the antiquated about it.

Having “put the hours in” to navigate the hurdles that came with blending career progression, home life, night shifts, and the adjustment to a post-merger culture, she found she nonetheless faced the blunt assumption “that males would become bank managers and females would be admin.”

Fast-forward to her part-time role at EFM, however, and the picture couldn’t be more different.

Sarah says that working with us boosts her self-worth because it essentially enables her to work on her terms, but it also makes it possible for her to fulfil her goal of empowering other women, too – she has recently referred and started mentoring our youngest member, Chloe. And Chloe feels empowered, commenting “the environment is truly nurturing, and Sarah has given me so much support – it makes stepping out of your comfort zone so much easier”.

EFM is leading the way

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there,” wrote L. P. Hartley, and nowhere is this truer than in regard to women in the financial profession. Things have very much moved on, and we’re proud to be supporting that change.

So, if you’re a finance professional and you’re struggling to find a part-time role or looking for a new career way of working – or you’re a business that needs a part-time financial controller or other finance professional who you can bring on board as and when you need them – EFM can help.

To find out more, just get in touch at clientcare@efm.uk.com or call 01582 516300.