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This week, as International Women’s Day is celebrated around the globe, we checked in with several of our team to talk about what equality means to them, and also how we view it through a professional lens.
As you may be aware, the makeup of Rising Tide has shifted substantially in the past couple of years. We’ve made a conscious effort to diversify the business, bringing in youth, energy, experience and fresh eyes, which are all incredibly valuable to the growth and development of our team – However, above all, we’ve brought in women.
To Leena, International Women’s Day is truly significant. She recognises it as an opportunity to talk about the ongoing challenges that women face, particularly in third world countries where there are still no laws (or little enforcement) against abuse and the severity of events like honour killings.
Similarly, Bobby acknowledges that while progress has been made to date, it was only embarrassingly recent that women weren’t able to vote or participate in various aspects of business, government, or society.
For the men in our team, the day represents an opportunity to increase awareness of what is being done by incredible women and allies, as well as understanding what needs to be done to gain gender parity.
Sam Jewell reflects on this, noting that the financial services industry 10 years ago is chalk and cheese compared to what we see today.
From the perspective of both an advisor and a business owner, I clearly appreciate the value of having diversity of thought and experience when it comes to managing people and providing advice. Having a business that is solely male or female just doesn’t fly any more. Without diversity, outcomes for our clients and staff are lessened as they’re getting a twisted perspective. I’m very proud that Rising Tide’s Planning team has blown industry norms out of the water when it comes to gender diversity.
Like Sam, Tom has also seen Rising Tide flourish with a greater female presence, and this also mirrors the strong influence of the women in his life. For all of us, there are special and powerful men and women in our lives, many of whom have shaped the way we perceive equality.
Katherine reflects on the influences of her family.
My sister is someone who has never been afraid to call a spade a spade and I know she has had a hard time calling out people who say or do the wrong thing. Whether it be gender equality, ableism or fatphobia, she motivates me every day to think about those who are less fortunate, check my privilege, and consider what I can do to support and better my community.
Matt talks about how equality is a concept that he’s only really coming to grips with as he enters his mid-30s.
Until recently, equality has always meant “treat others as you would like to be treated”. However, having spent a lot of time with Rising Tide’s very own Rebecca Pritchard, I’ve now realised three things:
- There is no right or wrong with equality, and it’s not linear, but more like a spectrum – Everyone’s perspective will be different.
- When you listen and ask questions, your perspective will change.
- Small actions help. You don’t need to be a celebrity to have an impact and every effort makes a difference. Rebecca always delivers in both her words and actions, no matter how small they may be, and I think that helps the push for equality.
Christine has seen how inequality has affected her parents and how it impacted many aspects of their relationship including their overall happiness.
As well as looking after my sister and I, mum also cooked, cleaned, and managed the finances while my dad ‘worked’. Both felt unappreciated and at the same time undervalued the other’s contribution. As I grew up, watching them taught me that while equality is vitally important in every relationship, you must also take some responsibility to create this for yourself.
Rebecca actively seeks out opportunities to learn from women from different backgrounds. As an avid reader, she is constantly getting new information and fresh perspectives.
I’ve grown up with an incredible bunch of girlfriends who are opinionated, clever and compassionate women. I love the opportunity to share ideas I’ve read or listened to, argue passionately, see alternative perspectives and above all, feel supported and encouraged. Education is a circle where we learn from others, but then, we also have a responsibility to share what we know, be prepared to un-learn or layer knowledge from different viewpoints.
Personally, and professionally, all of us have seen firsthand the positive change flowing from a growing focus on equality. As our education grows and we understand what equality really is, we become more confident in the elevation of women and know that this is not to the detriment of men.
Sam Gawenda has witnessed the growth of Rising Tide and is in no doubt that our business is a better place since welcoming in experienced and brilliant women.
We are more rounded as individuals and, as a collective, we are more inclusive than ever before. I personally have been made aware that some of the language I use can be harmful. While this is never intentional, and I have not been made aware in the past, it is fair to say that ignorance is not bliss. I’m proud that our business has created a space where individuals can feel confident in pulling someone up when needed, highlighting an opportunity to learn or have a laugh when someone inevitably puts their foot in their mouth.
Across Australia, women make up about 22% of the financial advice industry. When Katherine, our newest recruit joined our team in early 2022, her inclusion shifted the Rising Tide scales. Women now make up 60% of our Planning team and account for over half the Rising Tide team and Katherine firmly believes our clients, and the industry are better off.
From a professional standpoint, I feel respected for my insights and perspective. I believe the shift in the industry away from returns-based planning to goals-based planning was driven by the increase of female presence and equality within advisers (though we’re still not there yet!) Generally, men are more outcome focused while women take a more empathetic approach to really understand the emotions behind our client’s decisions. The mixing of these two styles will bring the best of both worlds and ultimately benefit the client and society more broadly – big wins!
Like our clients, many of the Rising Tide team have young families. When considering equality through the lens of a parent, it can look markedly different to what we see, or think about our community, industry, and country.
So, how do we think about actively addressing equality as a parent?
Matt and Annie do their best not to try not to instil beliefs in Max that may hold him back when it comes to equality.
We are fortunate to live in a highly diverse neighbourhood, which provides an excellent platform for Max to become comfortable with diversity and equality.
We discuss topics with him, and as he grows up, we will continue to expose him to people from different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives. I am acutely aware of the role that proximity plays in personal development, so access to diversity in thought is essential to me.
When it comes to gender stereotypes, we consciously avoid them – and do our best to ensure that we treat everyone equally and respect their opinions and beliefs. We intentionally expose Max to diverse toys, books and music – one of the kids’ bands that do a great job, in my opinion, is the ‘Teeny Tiny Stevie’s’.
Christine is finding it hard to get the right balance and like many, has concerns that the world is overcorrecting.
I believe in a fair distribution of responsibilities around the house, and I think it is great for Oliver to see this. Valuing everyone’s role within the house is important, and it’s something I keep trying to grow with. For example, while Scott doesn’t work as much as I do, we must acknowledge how he contributes by looking after Oliver. However, when it comes to equality with women, LGBTQ, and other disadvantaged groups, I am still unsure as to how I’m going to address this with Oliver.
Sam Gawenda is also conscious of the responsibility of raising his three young boys to respect women.
I always do my best to act as a positive role model and hope that I do not do anything that creates a value separation between men and women. A few small but important actions I am very wary of are:
- Using ‘like a girl’ or similar statements in a derogatory way. i.e ‘You throw like a girl…only girls pull hair…don’t be a girl’.
- Separating things like colours, toys or games based on gender stereotypes.
- Ensuring I greet my wife before the boys when I arrive home.
- Reflecting on the day and doing my best to ensure their Mum’s contribution is acknowledged.
From a business perspective, we are clearly aware of the short and long-term financial implications of gender inequality. There are challenges we consistently see with our female clients, and through advice and support, we do our best to help them overcome and push through any roadblock.
Leena believes that many women are not realising their full investment potential and may be hampered by outdated beliefs. Many are reluctant to borrow to their full capacity or purchase at the maximum price. Sometimes, this is because they don’t want to accrue a lot of debt or want the peace of mind that their debt is easily managed. However, often this conservative or apprehensive mindset stems from the possibility of a future career break and concerns for financial security.
Sam Jewell is often advocating for women to feel like active participants in joint conversations and be in control of their finances. He knows that many men take on the lead role in organising the household finances and, as such, is conscious of creating the space for women to take charge of their own financial narrative without being influenced by their partners. This may be around considering alternative strategies or simply asking the right questions to help them better understand their financial worlds. On the other hand, Sam also works with men to dismantle the inbred assumptions that financial management is only ever ‘his role’, while at the same time challenging the status quo.
Rebecca is deeply passionate about eradicating the gender superannuation gap and encourages clients to have conversations about what makes sense for them, their goals, and values. She often finds that providing a supportive space for couples to talk about financial equality (almost always in the context of maternity leave and/or ongoing part-time employment) not only gives women the power to advocate and act for themselves, but also provides their partners with the valuable opportunity to demonstrate their wholehearted support and agreement.
Rising Tide exists to give ourselves and our clients the freedom to ‘say yes’ and are committed for those ‘yes’s’ to be for everyone, of all genders.
We learn, adjust, reflect, and learn again so we can do this better and welcome your thoughts on how we can continue to support you and your loved ones.