There are certain skills and initiatives that will help women succeed in the traditionally male-dominated City.
At a recent discussion by a panel of high-profile female leaders from the banking and legal industry, these were deemed the top four ways in which women can be helped to reach the top.
1. You don't need to be 'one of the boys', but you do need to be assertive
Mentoring programmes are crucial and male mentors have much to offer, but it's important to manage the tension between working in a male-dominated environment and bowing to pressure to assimilate. Women need to cultivate their own leadership style and find their own voice, deriving confidence through competence. It's also important to avoid being too self-critical.
2. Women can make the most of real (and perceived!) skill sets
Women are often adept at noticing conflicts and dealing with them, as well as juggling various personalities and logistical demands. Their capacity to encourage and motivate those with different skill sets and personalities enables them to more naturally bridge gaps and find common ground. These are skill sets which can set women apart from their male peers and are worth cultivating.
3. Be confident in salary negotiations
Women tend to be more reticent than men when negotiating salary, often because they feel that the social cost of negotiating for higher pay is greater for women than it is for men. The key is letting your negotiating counterpart know that you understand their position but affirming that your own position is legitimate and justifiable. Solid preparation and factual evidence to support your negotiations is also critical.
4. Paternity leave is a must - for women
Programmes and initiatives aimed at developing female talent are important, but more must be done to encourage men to take paternity leave and level the playing field. As gender equality has advanced, the idea that mothers in the UK can take up to a year of maternity leave while fathers receive only two weeks is anachronistic. Firms need to show greater commitment to supporting their female talent through significant career crossroads and by encouraging men to take paternity leave.
Read more: Powerful women in the City
The environment for professional women in finance is evolving, and a new generation of successful female mentors and advisors are helping to pave the way for a generation of future female leaders.
The global competitive setting places a premium on leaders who can encourage and guide their teams, and the growth of strong women's networks and sponsorship programmes provide the support and opportunities crucial to advancement.
These issues were debated by a panel of high profile female leaders from the banking and legal industry at the recent launch of Cadwalader's Women in the City Programme, a seminar series designed to inspire more women to take up leadership roles by offering open dialogue, useful insights and practical guidance.