Category Archives: Career

Women in Banking – A Review of the DIW Summit in Berlin

This week I was fortunate enough to be one of the women at the Women in Finance Summit, here in Berlin. It was a one day event run by the DIW (Deutsche Institute für Wirtschaftsforschung) at the Deutsche Bank.

I was impressed by the calibre of the women there, I was there as a voluntary member of the advisory board for a small but impactful microfunding organisation. I was perceived by some bankers as the enemy but for business women we are far from that.


You see Goldrausch e.V is a microfinancing charity purely serving business women in Berlin. We lend relatively small amounts of money to get these entrepreneurs up and running in their businesses.  Many women see this as less intimidating than having to borrow a larger amount actually. Although we cannot offer as competitive rates of interest as our conventional counterparts, the banks, it seems that that is due to change very soon according to experts speaking and mingling.

So as the idiom goes, I was wearing a different hat, to the one that you usually see me in at the event.

You see, banks, particularly here in Germany are being forced to go through a fundamental and far-reaching transition which is in part being led by and influenced by women. The diversity of the world we live in and the economy that finance is fuelling is inhabited by 50% women but perhaps more interestingly 30% of the globe’s capital is in the ownership of women. So you see banks are learning that by mirroring the demographics they will be seen to be more approachable and trustworthy.

Quotas or Targets?

The topic of quotas came up, one that has fascinated me from the word go and there was a mixed bag of opinions on this one. Initially many women preferred to be promoted on merit not ‘just because they were a woman’ but as the momentum behind quotas started to take hold, it was apparent to both genders that quotas were not a replacement for internal targets. Instead or rather an accelerating factor moving leadership from lip service to action for the sake of reaching business goals.

Brenda D.H Trenowden who heads up the 30% Club in the UK was a charming mix of feminine, feisty and fabulous. She sadly pointed out that although the club has become more global than UK based, there was no interest at all from chairmen and CEOs in Germany.  Frankly, that sent a reality check through the room.

Diversity in Banking

Brenda talked about how the more advanced companies in terms of accepting and embracing diversity, were the ones that asked the toughest questions. The companies that did not hold up their hands in defeat if the numbers weren’t available but who insisted, probed and analysed until they got them. Like any other business policy, these facts and figures enable leadership to make more informed decisions about how to tackle diversity for the sake, not of social conformity, but for business success.

Wait in Line Ladies

Apparently, on average, female VPs spend on average 6 years longer ‘waiting, hoping’ to get promoted than men. In those 6 years other men get past the post because “She isn’t ready yet”. This isn’t helped by the fact that management training has faced cost cutting as a result of the global banking crisis. Inherent gender biases that we all have are being increasingly addressed with gender awareness training.

Mindset darling!

Ultimately though above and beyond quotas and internal targets, it is, of course, a shift in mindset that we are fundamentally in pursuit of.  That is deeply ingrained in the minds of each and every one of us, we as parents need to be great role models, as bosses we need to lead by example, our teachers, need to welcome girls into maths and boys into linguistics.

Disruption in the Financial Services Industry

In an industry being disrupted by fintech, it was disappointing to hear that the percentage of women in these startups was even lower than in conventional banks. Unfortunately, such providers were not afforded a place on the stage to provide any answers to what for me is a puzzling statistic.

The ugly

Another disappointing subsector was fund management with a shocking 84% of men on the boards and getting worse, not better. Women lose their jobs disproportionately more often than males int the same sector and yet in healthcare women represent 42%. One could argue that the sector has an impact but BHP – a mining company is on target to have 50% female workforce at all levels from mining to management by 2015. It’s doable with the right mindset, policies and persistence.

There is no silver bullet.

However work is being done in retention through returnship programmes. Other diversity measures discussed were insisting on having at least one female candidate for all job interviews and encouraging women to ask for a pay rise or ask for more responsibility. A greater focus on retention through returnship programmes was also showcased. Networking, mentoring but especially sponsorship were all seen to be absolutely essential.

Ultimately though, as Viviane Reding, Member of European Parliament and sensational speaker said, you have to “Rock the Boat” but ultimately if you’re not getting anywhere, take Brenda Trenowden’s advice and look after number one and take your talent elsewhere.

From flexibility to corporate entertaining to suit women

It was a fabulous summit and I hope that this has given you a sneak glimpse of what was discussed. I couldn’t resist a smile when they said that things that the guys take for granted like corporate events that appeal predominantly to the men, like rugby are not a good fit for women in finance. That’s one of the reasons why I chose Ascot for my next event, check it out if you want to nurture your career through networking.

The finance industry is not alone in it’s struggle to accommodate women on a level heading with the guys, but more about other industries in another post. Let me know if you are affected and how.

If you feel that the time is right to start networking more productively with other go getting women, then join us at Ascot.

Further Information…

  1. Article from the Handelsblatt about the event in German

Noch 80 Jahre bis zur Gleichberechtigung

2. TED Talk about Saudi women succeeding

I’ll check my comments now, won’t I? Question Tags for Business

I have just noticed that the majority of your blog comments were going through to spam. I have only just discovered them and was so touched by what people have said.

Thanks for Motivating Me Today!

On a day like today when the sun is shining and my mountain bike is … Continue reading I’ll check my comments now, won’t I? Question Tags for Business

Ms 80%. Perfectionists never Reach Last Base

There are weeks like this one when you are really firing on all cylinders and it is easy to beat yourself up about not having done X, Y or Z but the bottom line is that 80% is normally good enough and certainly better than never getting anything off the ground.

Think of it this way, when you are having a bad hair day, who notices? Nobody. Do you EVER notice someone else having a bad hair day, I know that I never do.

It’s the same with our businesses, just because we strive for perfection, it shouldn’t be a monster that overwhelms us.

So this week in the VIDEO below, I explain a little bit about how I managed to break free from my obsession with perfection…


Date/Datum: Tomorrow 10th May 2016
Where?/Wo?: Twitter & Facebook

Hi, for those of you that


  • need to improve your written Business English or
  • want to ease yourself back into using your English by writing, after all it’s less intimidating than speaking, right?
  • want to discover how to use Twitter for business networking

I have just the challenge for you…

(I’m like a little girl going all silly in a sweet shop excited about this…)

It will be a 30 day challenge for 7 amazing business women like yourself. You get the opportunity to make all of your English mistakes in private, first of all in a closed Facebook page. That is where you’ll get personal feedback from myself, a native speaking trainer before you post it for real on Twitter.

Up to three a day, that is 93 perfect tweets in one month.

Cool right?


Practice makes perfect honey!

JUST THINK Suddenly you will have the linguistic freedom to be active on social media in English too. Let’s take your expertise a little further! Continue reading #007TwitterChallenge

Procrastination v professionalism

It is not yet the end of January, but we are getting close, so why am I only now, really getting my stuff together? Just two days ago I looked at my office and realised that, “You know what, Corinne? It looks like you’ll be in Berlin for a while, so if you are going to make this place the realm of productivity and English teaching prowess, this office needs to be optimised. Continue reading Procrastination v professionalism

Fuel your Fabulous Future with Feedback

It’s all too easy to overlook great feedback isn’t it?

I grew up in a family business so as a child, we spent many a meal time or car journey, brainstorming about how to improve service, how to streamline systems and how else we could make our business known. Many heads are better than one and although there were times as a child when I used to groan at this, after all, teenagers do a lot of sighing and eye rolling, don’t they? It paved the way for a soul searching need to get hold of really constructive and useful, honest feedback.

Continue reading Fuel your Fabulous Future with Feedback