“It’s not enough to have one woman in the office. You need to achieve critical mass.”
This sentiment, shared by HR Consultant Tricia Feuerborn, resonates throughout the financial industry. Morningstar’s 2017 research confirmed the numbers are critically low and decreasing, both in terms of fund managers and employees in general. Companies and job seekers realize the positive impact of a diverse workforce, which is why many are increasing efforts to recruit women.
American Century, too, is focusing on women—and we’re making progress. This year, we welcomed the largest class of female interns in the company’s history. They worked across a variety of departments, ranging from information technology to investment management.
As their summer internships drew to a close, we had a chance to sit down with these bright minds for a roundtable. The topic: How can the financial industry attract and retain more women? We summarized their feedback in four distinct categories below in an effort to ensure that American Century’s workforce reflects our values and our shareholders.
It’s common practice to only offer college internships to juniors and seniors about to graduate and start their careers. But for several of our women, the decision to work in finance started long before college.
“I chose my path toward business and finance when I was 15 because that’s when students got the chance to choose themed classes,” one intern shared.
Several of the other women agreed. Even if they knew what they wanted to do early in their educations, they reported being open to switching industries if their job of choice lacked opportunity.
For those women who hadn’t settled on a career path, interest in a potential job often came down to the team and how they treated prospective candidates.
“I didn’t know what I wanted [industry-wise]; I just knew I wanted to work with interesting people who were willing to teach me what I needed to know,” one said.
Representation was also key. Several women mentioned they took note of specific companies because of the diversity they saw on their teams.
“I became interested in the position because of the people representing the team at the career fair; they looked like me. I didn’t see that kind of diversity throughout the whole entire fair. I had also never seen a woman in IT who was a manager—ever. And that team was led by a woman.”
Many of our interns did research on companies prior to interviewing. They looked up the company website, as well as the LinkedIn accounts of the hiring managers.
“It was helpful to see what kind of investment perspectives they may have had based on their prior experience,” another intern told us.
While skills learned on the job were important, many of the women valued mentorship opportunities the most. This could take on many forms—being invited to meetings simply to learn how different areas functioned, job rotation and shadowing programs, and meeting other women in the business.
“My mentor and I had meetings with women all over the company who encouraged me to be my own advocate. At that point, I didn’t know what self-promotion looked like. It was something I had to learn,” one intern said.
Others found multiple mentors who would actively include them in their work, through client meetings or participating in large projects. “My co-workers made me feel like I was part of the team from the start. They didn’t treat me as an intern or inferior.”
Given that so many of our women had positive experiences working in finance, we asked why they thought women didn’t stay in the industry longer. For some in our group, it came down to being able to visualize a career path.
“I look for growth. There are a lot of job descriptions, and I think Millennials don’t like to stay at the same company for long because they get bored."
Others looked for that reason to get out of bed in the morning.
“I think a lot of women start in finance and then leave because they don’t find their work meaningful. Knowing that your work has meaning to it—that you’re not just making rich people richer—is not something a lot of other companies have. I could see a long-term career with a company that has a higher purpose [such as American Century’s tie to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research].”
We want to thank all the wonderful, inspiring women who took the time to speak with us on such an important topic and wish them the best of luck in their careers, wherever they find their purpose.
Our ownership structure is unique in the asset management industry. With over 40% of our company dividends distributed to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, we enable our clients to support research and contribute to the global fight against cancer and other gene-based diseases. Responsible investing is rooted in our DNA. Learn more about our story and available positions.
Responsible investing is rooted in our DNA. Learn more about our story and available positions.
The opinions expressed are those of American Century Investments (or the portfolio manager) and are no guarantee of the future performance of any American Century Investments' portfolio. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal or tax advice.