This past weekend I had the pleasure of being on a panel of women who addressed a group of smart high school women. My goal was to show them that understanding money would empower them to thrive in life – that it was a critical life skill. Below are the questions they asked us to prepare to answer, and my brief responses to each.
SheStrong Summit: Tell us about your career journey – where have you found support and where have you found obstacles?
Beacham: Support – I was lucky to have found some people who were patient with me when I acted as if I knew everything. They helped me learn. Obstacles occurred when I would shoot for the stars – there was more encouragement for mediocrity than to excel. I think mediocrity felt safer to many in the workplace. To me it was impossible to live with. That’s why I started my own company.
SheStrong Summit: What surprised you most about the challenges or lack thereof?
Beacham: The lack of tolerance for excellence. At least in my day. At least in financial services.
SheStrong Summit: How are women perceived in your particular field? How is this similar or different from the way women are perceived by your friends, family, and community?
Beacham: Surveys tell us that teens ask mom for money and dad for money advice. I want to change that. Risk is the issue. Overall, men take more risk when investing. So, they are looked to as the better trusted advisor when it comes to long-term advising. Women need to learn about investing, understand risk to get comfortable with risk to be more comfortable with giving advice and investing themselves.
SheStrong Summit: Is feminism perceived a particular way within these circles?
Beacham: Men are – still today – given the role of “provider” in many relationships. Women take what they provide and apply it to the life they lead, covering daily wants and needs. Men make it and women make it work. Generally. Women also work today and therefore they are also providers. But still, the role of making the money work for the family for everyday existence falls to women.
In a sense, women are still marginalized in the world of money. Sometimes due to their lack of financial literacy, sometimes due to the traditional roles women play in marriages and sometimes because men want to be good providers – it is a role they understand. And if not that role, then what role for men, they ask?
SheStrong Summit: How do you respond to stereotypes, misconceptions, or discrimination in the workplace?
Beacham: When I was younger, in my twenties, I don’t think I understood it. It was not on my radar. I certainly did not rail against it – rather, I worked hard to prove myself and used that as my first line of defense against any kind of discrimination. Basically, if I was Meryl Streep – Harvey Weinstein was not going to mess with me.
That may not have been the best approach – but at that point in my life – it was all I had. Now, I am much more proactive as I have two daughters, ages 25 and 23 – and do not want them to suffer what I suffered. Interestingly, that was the same reason I started my business. I wanted my girls to rule the money in their lives – not have money rule them.
SheStrong Summit: How can women and individuals from marginalized communities support one another as minorities in certain industries?
Beacham: If you see something, say something. And, support one another. Start there. That is generally that hardest thing to do as a woman. Supporting other women when we are all struggling to gain ground. But, we are a success because we stand on the shoulders of giants – and we should not forget that. It is our job to nurture women. Watch the movie “Hidden Figures” which is a powerful statement about the power of women supporting women.
SheStrong Summit: Are feminism/women’s rights and inclusion topics of discussion in your industry? What do these discussions look like? Who leads them?
Beacham: Well, in the world of money, there is allot of emotion tied up in these discussions. That tends to cloud many of the rights and inclusion issues. In financial literacy, because it is education, women lead the charge to change that. Discussions are centered around getting basic foundational personal finance education into the hands of teachers and parents and into the heads of students, empowering them about money as they grow.
SheStrong Summit: Do you believe it’s important for industries and companies to achieve more equitable gender representation? Why?
Beacham: That is a pretty big question – and in some ways, above my pay grade. I would rather just make an observation: Women have a skill set and men have a skill set and they are both different and complimentary. So, to me, it just makes sense to have both genders contributing at all times and at all levels.
SheStrong Summit: What myths do you think exist about being a woman in a male-dominated industry?
Beacham: The usual. That we are aggressive when we are ambitious. That we are nasty when we are driven. I loathe even giving life to these myths by recording them right now as I think we should just stop talking about them and they will die a natural death.
SheStrong Summit: What tips do you have for young women seeking to build careers in male-dominated industries?
Beacham: Work very hard. Be respectful. Understand you have much to learn – but those you work for have much to learn from your fresh and new perspective. They say that GRIT is a key to success. GRIT is passion and perseverance for long-term goals.
Watch this link and read this article. Then follow the advice.