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The challenges women face in the financial services sector are nothing new, finds Thando Pato.

(Excerpt from Sunday Times article below)

Three women in finance share the challenges they have faced in their areas of operation and what they believe will help women to advance in their careers and become more empowered.

Don’t swim alone

At the age of 29, Soria Hay took a leap of faith and co-founded business, Bravura. Hay is acutely aware of the challenges women face in the investment banking sector, including the “old boys club” mentality that results in more men in senior positions.

“The research on gender diversity on JSE-listed companies is an indication of how far women still need to go in all industries,” she says. “There must be a deliberate and concerted effort to develop programmes and initiatives that focus on female candidates. And, those programmes must be widely marketed so that potential graduates are aware of such before graduating.

“We actively seek out female candidates at all levels. We have also developed a graduate programme aimed at newly-qualified, black female graduates. Over a 12 to 24-month period, the candidates become active members of the corporate finance team. At the conclusion, we hope to see them become permanent team members.”

Hay believes a key to success for women is sponsorship. “Finding a sponsor was the turning point in my career. Whereas before I’d been ‘swimming alone’ in the corporate pond, I was now given the space and opportunity to have my ideas heard and to test my own limits to see what I could do professionally.”

Published by: Sunday Times. Read the full article here