This open letter is a response to a Bloomberg article InvestmentNews ran Tuesday about some male Wall Street executives whose concerns about #MeToo accusations have led them to limit the ways in which they work with female colleagues, for example by refusing to have dinner with a woman or sit next to a woman on a plane trip.
To the men who are contributing to the culture behind this article:
You are coming at this all wrong. In fact, you are wrong about women and your approach to them in the workplace. Women are like you — we are people with ambitions, drive and a work ethic. We seek opportunities to be heard and to further our careers. We work extra hard to be taken seriously and to be considered for the same types of roles that men are often naturally given.
If you are concerned about potential repercussions in the #MeToo era, perhaps you should think about your after-hour activities and conversations, and whether they are appropriate. Maybe actively edit your "jokes" to be less offensive and more inclusive. Many experts have even talked about going through sensitivity training to be more aware of what is and isn't appropriate in the workplace.
A note of advice to the Wall Street men who are still worried: Don't do or say anything to a woman colleague that you wouldn't to a man colleague.
I am outraged that this kind of article would be cited, considered reputable and published. We live in an industry that should be providing opportunities based on merit. This article drips with sexism and frankly is disturbing.
To the women who read this article (and may have had a similar reaction):
Perhaps it's time we take a closer look at the details. If this article is addressing the concerns of the wolves of Wall Street, this may serve as further validation that the independent registered investment advisory space is that much more welcoming and the preferred place to thrive.
Wall Street is known for being bureaucratic and for its notorious "big wigs." RIAs are known for their independence, freedom and sense of community. Which culture would you prefer?
RIAs allow for forward movement and progress within a team. They offer networking opportunities and the ability to learn from peers. The average RIA has significantly less than the tens of thousands of advisers running the wirehouse hamster wheel (typically between 25 and 100 employees at the larger RIAs).
We've always known that the RIA environment provides the best solutions for clients, but I would argue it also provides the best environment and career opportunities for women.
Anyone who works within an RIA or serves the RIA community can agree that it is one that's collaborative and encouraging. By no means am I claiming it's perfect, but you can safely and confidently argue RIAs haven't had the same scandals that the wirehouse industry has. We're allowed to breathe without fearing the toxicity that seems to plague the larger firms that advisers increasingly are breaking away from.
I hope this creates a moment to pause and reflect on the effect an article like this could have on a young woman who is eager to learn, do and grow within the financial services industry. And if you are that young woman, know you are WELCOME and championed within the RIA space. Do not be discouraged by this ignorance and idiocy.
Most sincerely yours,
Anna Maria Garcia
Anna Maria Garcia is an analyst at PFI Advisors.