Meena Lakshmanan, Partner
"I didn't get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it." - Estée Lauder
Friday 8th March marks International Women's Day – a day that looks to celebrate the achievements of women culturally, socially, economically and indeed politically. Not the first of its kind, 110 years ago the Socialist Party of America observed 'National Woman's Day' in recognition of female oppression and poor working conditions. Just two years later, 1911 saw the official launch of International Women's Day, the same day that we continue to celebrate over a century later.
International Women's Day, Gender Pay Gap Reports, Women in Finance initiatives. There is no denying that the topic of female empowerment is certainly 'on trend' in today's business culture. However, how sincere is this and what does International Women's Day really mean?
For me, International Women's Day is much more than gender balancing within the workplace, it is about empowering women to make their own choices and have access to the same opportunities. There are still a number of cases where the expectation remains that a woman's role is to be the homemaker and not work, even in the developed world. International Women's Day is about breaking those stereotypes and encouraging change.
My own journey to a successful 20-year career began with role models who were the most unlikely of women. My first inspiration being my aunt, Sivagami. Sivagami was forced to get a Stock Exchange licence in order to keep the family broking business going. Despite having no prior training or university degree, she rose to the challenge and thrived. I have fond recollections of her returning home from work and mentioning the trades she had placed that day. This was my first exposure to the stock market as a teenager. Another inspiration is my great aunt, Lakshmi, who travelled to a post-war Vietnam to work in her family banking business.
These women were unusual in a predominately male bastion of Indian finance. They were not activists, nor did they set out to break any glass ceilings. Their choices were driven out of necessity and curiosity. Nevertheless, I am confident that their stories likely shaped my aspirations and later decisions.
I am incredibly proud to be a Partner at a company that supports and encourages women. LGT Vestra is a proud signatory of HM Treasury's Women in Finance Charter in order to demonstrate our desire to achieve gender parity across the business. Gender parity and empowering women is not about providing women with greater opportunities than men; it is about achieving a genuine gender equilibrium in society. It is about knowing that if you work hard, your opportunities will not be restricted because of your gender.
There is a saying "behind every great man is a woman", I believe the opposite of this is also true. My opinion is that working in a collegiate and diverse environment between men/women from all ages and walks of life is key to the success of any business.