Five years ago, IR Magazine first investigated differences in seniority and pay between men and women in the IR profession.
We found that while the number of men and women working in IR was roughly the same, far more men held head of IR roles. On average, men also received higher pay than their female peers. The results, while depressing, were not surprising. Survey other industries, especially those related to the financial markets, and you will find similar disparities.
Since then, IR Magazine has held regular equality in IR events, part of our global initiative to create a level playing field for excellence in the IR community.
The latest event took place in May, with attendees gathering virtually to hear panel discussions and speeches on how to support diversity within the profession and achieve their individual career goals.
The first panel focused on the role of the company in promoting diversity, asking questions such as: what are effective ways to build a more inclusive team? How can organizations sustain change over the long term? And what role can targets play?
Robert Nuzzo, chief operating officer of fundamental equities, Americas, at BlackRock, said companies should focus on creating new opportunities for diverse candidates, not just identifying diverse candidates for their own organization.
‘Are you creating opportunities for people who otherwise would not have that opportunity?’ he asked. ‘In the US, we are trying to overcome systemic issues that aren’t going to change overnight. We have to figure out ways to cultivate an inclusive and equitable environment.’
Later, panelists discussed the importance of being ambitious but also realistic when setting targets, as well as creating systems of accountability.
‘If it’s just set as a theoretical goal, then there’s an opportunity to say, We tried and it didn’t happen,’ said Margeaux Bruner, director of ESG and diversity, equity & inclusion for Trulieve. ‘I think that actually attempting to quantify a goal you can meet, or exceed, is very, very important.’
The second panel honed in on the role of the IRO, offering stories and advice on career advancement, negotiating pay and the work-life balance.
Carolynne Borders, senior executive, IR at GE, discussed how being a valuable resource outside of the C-suite helps to grow your value within the organization.
‘Word usually travels pretty fast about your value,’ she said. ‘And you’ll find you’re one of the first people those teams reach out to when there are challenging environments. Or maybe they want a grounded perspective on a strategic consideration – you know you are doing a great job and adding value when you’re getting those phone calls.
‘I think the best way to move up is to become one of those often-tapped resources. But you need to have a diverse set of experiences, which comes with time. And if you don’t have that yet, it’s okay. You work on building that out.’
During the same panel, Ilene Fiszel Bieler, global head of IR at State Street Corporation, discussed the positive role mentors have played in her career.
‘I literally just approached someone who I thought was really, really smart, who I had been working with on a project that was cross-functional,’ she recalled. ‘And I went up to him and I said, Hey, would you be my mentor? And it was quite humorous, because he said, Well, tell me what that means.
‘And that, actually, is what set me on the path to doing equity IR. Had I not reached out to him when I was in a completely different world, I don’t know whether that opportunity would have presented itself to me.’
Doing your part
To end the event, attendees heard from executive search consultant Smooch Repovich Rosenberg, who encouraged IR professionals to remain committed to advancing equality within the profession.
‘Be intentional in your actions, have a clear voice on your priorities and know that no one goal achieved means we are done as influencers. This is a journey to an improved future,’ said Repovich Rosenberg.
‘Sadly, the world does not always work at the speed we wish it could. And we must not only maintain hope that the pendulum will begin to balance across all elements of equality but also commit ourselves to being a part of the solution, and not leave all of the answers to others.’
To find out more or watch replays of the event, please click here.