“Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering that outright rejection.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’ve been interested to see some prominent figures in our profession step forward recently and put their hand up – expressing their need to educate themselves further in issues around equality and inclusion – spurred by the George Floyd protests which again raised Black Lives Matter to the international attention.
I’m in agreement with them – I’ve been busy reading, listening and talking too. I’ve had conversations with family, friends and colleagues that previously I probably would have avoided. Or, if I’m being honest, felt we didn’t need to have because colour wasn’t an issue for us. That, I know now, is the impact of structural racism and my white privilege talking.
In educating myself about racism, being anti-racist and my own white privilege, I’ve also been pondering more about the stuff I do really know a lot about, being part of the minority. Only 17% of the Financial Planning Profession are female.
I’ve worked in this male dominated profession for almost 20 years now and I think I’ve done well. But looking back on those 20 years, it’s not always been easy and if I’m honest, unless companies are willing to take positive steps to level the playing field, I don’t think it’s set to change fast.
I’ve always stuck to what I know. I’m female, I like being female. I’ve always been girly and liked pink. Just looking at picture albums from my childhood indicates that the Magenta flag I now fly, runs pretty deep.
But historically I’ve been a pretty reluctant feminist and not wanted to stick my head above the parapet too much. That’s changing. I know I must stand up and be the Gloria Steinem in this story.
“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” Gloria Steinem
I wholeheartedly believe we must be open to unlearn, to listen and educate ourselves better about feminism. Racism. Disability. Sexuality.
I’m fed up of critics (some of them ‘peers’) that can’t be quiet for long enough to listen to the whole story without getting angry, defensive and aggravated – typically using twitter to lash out.
It’s vital that more of us accept that the only way we can start to have a fair and equal profession, provide a better service to our prospective clients and really start to change society and our systemic discrimination, is to level the playing field – to enable equality of opportunity.
It’s time to listen. It’s time to implement positive change.
As Gloria so eloquently puts it:
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”