Late last week I had an AHA! moment, as entrepreneur and 85 Broads colleague, Shauna Mei would say. An article entitled Women on Street A Declining Breed appeared in last week's WSJ.
It was brought to my attention by another 85 Broads colleague, Margaret Astolfi of Clear Harbor Asset Management.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the past ten years, 141,000 women, or 2.6% of female workers in finance, left the industry. This despite a 4.1% growth in the number of women in the US labor force during the same time period.
In the article, several reasons are cited for this decline, including one by 85 Broads Founder, Janet Hanson, who offered that women are finding "their entrepreneurial groove" , " It's not because Wall Street is not a fascinating place to be, it's just that there are other places that are more fascinating".
I could not agree more. One only need look at the swelling ranks of women entrepreneurs in emerging markets like China where women make up 47% of the workforce, and 20% of all entrepreneurs. Click here for a recent study by Harvard and Rollins College faculty.
But I have another theory as to why female talent has left the financial industry.
It involves authenticity. Most women demand it. And Wall Street has traditionally not fostered a culture of truth.
Another thing women demand, and are willing to fight for, is equality. Despite recent progress, the gap between what women on Wall Street earn compared to their male counterparts is still unacceptably large. Forgetting pay, women account for only 16.8% of executive officers, and only 2.5% of financial company CEO's, according to a recent study by Catalyst, Inc.
The only thing that will reverse this alarming trend is a mutual investment by both men and women in changing the way society views their roles and responsibilities. Click here for a post on this subject by fellow 85 Broads colleague and Wonder Woman, Jacki Zehner.
The truth is, we need more women on Wall Street, not less. But then again, we need more women in all areas of influence and power. We need more Authenticity. Once this has been restored, the women will come.
I, and many others, are looking for ways to help bridge the gap between men and women. Women of Wealth are putting their money where their mouth is, and supporting other women.
And it's finally beginning to pay off!