On the 7th of February, OxWIB welcomed Rebecca McKavanagh, Silviu Paraoan, and Jenny Flynn from EY (Ernst & Young) for an insightful panel discussion on understanding gender diversity, creating balance, and taking initiative in the workplace.
Gender equality and EY
According to the EU gender quality index report, the gender gap in employment across the EU is wide and persistent; the full-time employment rate for women is 40%, while it is 56% for men. Income gaps have narrowed, but on average women still earn 20% less than men.
EY target at least 30% female and 10% BME representation at partner level, which is above industry standards for financial services. As a result of EY’s focused efforts, there has been a 20% increase in the number of women in top executive management positions. Despite this, there is still a lot of work to be done, and EY are leading a number of initiatives to help, such as the Inclusiveness Leadership Programme, EY Leading Women (a student based programme that gives you the chance to shadow senior women at EY), Professional Women’s Network, and Career Watch.
At EY, there are structures in place to look out for your development and well-being. For example, you are allocated a counsellor when you join, who is someone you can approach with questions about work. You would review your feedback with them and have discussions on how to drive higher performance and greater individual development. You could set yourself targets to grow personally and professionally - if you want to get better at presentations, your counsellor will help you in outlining what steps you would need to take in order to achieve that goal.
As you are faced with a variety of opportunities that will help you develop, you have to think about what you want to get out of your career. At University, it’s usually clear what you’re working towards, but in the workplace, it’s something you have to actively think about and drive forwards.
Taking initiative: How can you take control of your own success
Make the most out of the relationships you build by using them to their full potential. While there may be formal mentoring schemes in place, finding an informal mentor can also help you progress in your career. Most often, this kind of relationship begins when two people meet and discover they have common interests. A mentor is usually someone who has more experience or seniority than you, and will therefore have insightful knowledge to share that they’ve gathered over time. Frequently they’ll actively support you by opening doors and introducing you to other people in their network. Showing the initiative to drive the relationship will demonstrate confidence – the worst that can happen is they will say that they’re busy.
How to make yourself stand out in the workplace
You can build a positive reputation simply by staying focused and dedicated and producing excellent work. It’s worth asking for feedback whilst you’re on the job rather than waiting to ask at the end of a project - proactively asking the right questions shows your willingness to learn and improve.
Seeking out opportunities and doing more than what your job description dictates will help you get noticed, especially in a large firm such as EY. For example, you could engage in workplace activities like volunteering to organise a social event, which will make people start to recognise you.
Standing out at work also involves taking on small, menial tasks, such as taking minutes at meetings, but doing them exceptionally well. Accepting “boring” tasks with a smile on your face creates a great atmosphere in the office and makes you a valued and appreciated team member. Getting things done in the best way possible won’t go unrecognised, and it could lead to better opportunities later on.
After concluding the panel discussion with an overview of EY’s application process, we had the opportunity to network with the panel speakers and other members of the society over drinks.