How the CEO of the Securities Traders Association is Addressing the Challenge
By Silvia Davi, Chief Marketing Officer, Equities.com
At the recent 83rd Securities Traders Association Market Structure Conference in D.C., I attended the Women in Finance symposium at the conference and was pleasantly surprised.
The symposium was a celebration and acknowledgment of women in Wall Street–long needed in an industry still heavily dominated by men. I first attended the annual Securities Traders Association Market Structure Conference 16 years ago when I was working at a trading firm and later quite a few times while working at a global exchange and was always struck by the lack of diversity year after year at this major industry event. Having recently returned to financial services after a few years broadening my background in other industry sectors, it was a nice surprise to see progress at this former boys club event. Pushing the initiative forward is Jim Toes, CEO of the Securities Traders Association, who has been a great advocate for the women’s initiative. I recently spent time with Jim, who also happens to be the father of three daughters and has penned articles on “not being that guy”, about this year’s Women’s symposium at the annual conference.
EQ: What inspired the launch of the inaugural Securities Traders Association – Women in Finance Symposium after all these years?
Toes: Our Women in Finance initiative has been going for one year now. Ken Heath, former publisher of Traders Magazine, passed away last year. In 2011, Ken launched what would become a jewel in Traders’crown: Wall Street Women, A Celebration of Excellence. As a long-time media partner and friend, STA and I felt strongly about carrying on his legacy in honoring women. With his family’s blessing, we started the initiative.
EQ: Jim, you have been a vocal advocate for women and recently sent a direct message to the trading community, can you explain?
Toes: Yes, it was a response to a New York Times article entitled “How Wall Street Bro Talk Keeps Women Down.” I agreed with the author in that women’s groups offer many resources and are, in fact, a value add. Here’s an excerpt from my article, “Don’t Be That Guy”:
STA WIF acknowledges that more needs to be done and we see the “promulgation of diversity committees and women’s leadership summits” as described by Mr. Polk as resources which provide hope that the future will be brighter for women and minorities. These institutional-sized responses are sources of education on the value-add that diversity brings to organizations, and they provide training on recognizing and responding to sexism in the workplace.
EQ: What percentage of women make up the STA? What is the total membership?
Toes: 15% women – and looking to increase.
EQ: There was a terrific lineup of female speakers at this year’s annual Market Structure conference. Did you make a concerted effort to be more inclusive?
Toes: Absolutely. I have been making a concerted effort since my arrival at STA in 2013 regarding the promotion and advancement of women. It just seemed like the next logical step – to formalize the effort, adding a committee, mission statement and guiding principles.
EQ: What is the overall mission of the Women in Finance program and how can women in Finance learn more or become involved?
Toes: The Security Traders Association of Women in Finance supports and co-markets with other affiliate women’s organizations within the finance community. Together, we create a stronger presence, promote membership amongst all organizations, and establish a platform for women in finance.
I would say that the four main points of STA WIF are: Gender Equality; Advancement of Women; Mentoring, Coaching, Education; and Networking.
We are leveraging the established network, resources, and values of the Securities Traders Association to foster and create a culture of inclusion for women in finance.
This article originally appeared on Equities.com