In today’s “Financially Savvy Female” column, we chat with Kim Harding, co-founder of Harding Financial and Insurance and chair of the board of directors for Life Happens. When Harding started out her career as a financial advisor, she was once one of 10 women in an office of more than 200 people, but worked her way up the corporate ladder and eventually started her own business. Here, she’s sharing the valuable lessons she’s learned along the way and her best advice for women to break the glass ceiling and land in leadership positions — even in male-dominated industries.
Tap Into Your Unique Strengths
Becoming a leader requires you to lean into your strengths, whatever they may be, Harding said.
“I believe that everyone, male or female, has unique qualities that enable them to overcome challenges in their careers and find success in the industry,” she said. “In my career, I personally tapped into my own strengths that differentiated me from my peers — being a good listener, patience, reliability, asking great questions, living a life of integrity and curiosity — to build strong relationships with my clients, which are the foundation for success in our industry. Women should tap into their own unique strengths to break through these barriers and climb the corporate ladder.”
Always Seek To Learn and Grow
Women should also be taking proactive steps to continually improve their skillsets, making them more appealing candidates for leadership positions.
“Some key steps for career advancement include always maintaining a growth mindset, seeking out mentors, continuously furthering your education, strengthening your leadership skills and getting involved with industry associations to learn from others who have been successful and can help you grow,” Harding said.
Find Motivation in the Inequality You See
It can be disheartening to work at a company where females are in the minority, or where there’s a lack of female leaders. Instead of being discouraged by this, use this as a motivation to be the best employee you can be.
“When I first started my career in financial services, there were about 225 agents in my office, and only 10 were women,” Harding said. “As one of only a few women, I had to prove myself. Financial services can be a competitive environment, require long hours, and for many women, they can feel the pressure of advancing their career while having children. I saw the imbalance of men and women as an opportunity for me to inspire other women to join the industry and help show them that these barriers can be overcome. There is so much that men and women can learn from each other, which is exactly why the industry needs both — not one gender dominating the field. I encourage women to look at these barriers as opportunities for them to become the best they can be by learning from every experience, focusing on doing the best job they can and building solid, long-term relationships with their clients.”
Rising in the ranks will also enable you to help other women land leadership positions.
“It’s critical to have female leaders in every industry,” Harding said. “This way, women can serve as an example of what’s achievable to other women, passing on their knowledge and support to other women and peers through mentoring.”
GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons behind these inequities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women to take control of their money and help them live a richer life.
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