Highlights from the latest Women in IR event
IR professionals gathered in London in mid-November for the latest IR Magazine Forum – Women in IR. The morning event saw a panel discuss how female IROs can bridge the gap in pay and seniority with their male counterparts.
IR Magazine has run Women in IR events for the last three years. They were launched after research found that, despite men and women making up roughly equal numbers in the IR profession, men held two thirds of senior roles.
Since then, IR Magazine has conducted more research into the subject. In the Women in IR report, released earlier this year, one of the key findings states: ‘There is a clear difference between the experience of men and women who have IR as their sole focus, with men much more likely to be IR heads and to be better paid than women.’
Speaking on the panel, Melanie Toyne-Sewell, managing partner of communications consultancy Instinctif Partners, said it’s important for women to make sure they are broadcasting the work they are doing and asking for any changes in position or salary they want to attain.
‘If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Sitting and hoping that someone is going to notice all the great work you’re doing – you just can’t rely on it,’ she said.
Toyne-Sewell noted that it’s important to focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. ‘I also think we are own worst enemies because in the back of our mind [we’re thinking], Well there is a list of 10 things we need to be great at to do this job. I can do eight or nine at a push, but I can’t do that 10th,’ she said.
‘And actually, if we turned it on its head a bit and said, I can do two or three of those things really well, and I can learn the rest... I’ve got an aptitude for that and I can work hard, then that’s fine, let’s crack on.’
The discussion also focused on the best way for women in IR to effectively network and build contacts that can positively influence their career.
Tina Kladnik, head of IR at ADLER Real Estate, said networking is often most effective away from the work environment. For example if you go to a conference, try to attend the cocktail drinks that are held at the end or go to dinner with other attendees. ‘The more relaxed you make it, the more long-lasting it is,’ she said. ‘And you can actually rely on those people.’
Toyne-Sewell said it’s important to approach networking in the right way. ‘I heard someone had done some research on the differences in how people network,’ she explained. ‘[Women] are very good at collecting the bits of paper and attending the right sort of networking meetings. But actually you’re networking among people who are all trying to do the same thing.
‘One thing that is really good to do is go through your address book and your LinkedIn contacts and work out who the top 50 or so really key contacts are, [the ones] who are going to be the most useful people who can mentor you or give you advice or potentially point you in a new direction. You keep that network growing and building.’
The panel also considered the best ways to highlight the work you are doing to senior management. Jenny Matthews, head of IR at Barratt Developments, said investor perception studies are a good way to set the benchmarks for what you want to achieve. They can suggest a summary of what should be done and help ‘set your objectives,’ she explained. ‘That’s how you validate yourself.’
Matthews added that a good CRM system is also useful because ‘it logs what you’ve done and who you’ve seen.’ She said that while recording everything you do can feel like a chore, it is very useful at the end of the year to be able to demonstrate all the actions you have taken and how they have supported the company.
For more information about IR Magazine’s events, please follow this link.