The Importance of Looking Up: Why Women in Finance Need a Role Model
By now, you all know how much I love talking about investing in yourself. It’s the key to growth in your career (and outside of it!), a form of self-help, and integral to becoming an entrepreneur—but let’s not get too deep into that.
Investing in yourself can look a lot of different ways. Why? Because everyone is different, and so are everyone’s goals. How you define success is not the same as someone else.
But, one of my go-to recommendations for Black women in finance who are looking to invest in themselves is simple—and it doesn’t have to cost you a dime: find a role model.
In a survey conducted by The Center for Accounting Education (CAE) at Howard University and NABA, the results showed that Black accounting professions who had a CPA or accounting professional in the family showed a positive association with becoming a CPA. The survey also mentions that the lack of diversity within the field, in part, can be due to the lack of visibility the accounting profession has when compared to other more high-profile careers, like law or medicine.
What really stuck out to me was another finding from the survey: the lack of accounting professionals who reach out to aspiring or future Black and minority accountants. Here’s a finding pulled directly from the survey:
“Once individuals have achieved a high level of success in public accounting or industry, they may not want to leverage their status by doing outreach, speaking in underserved communities, or participating in networking events to support African American professionals (CPA Examination Summit, 2007).”
When I read that, I had to take a second to breathe in and out. Slowly.
Then, it struck me that on my own path, I didn’t really see or experience Black leadership in the industry firsthand. I was exposed to impactful mentors in my schooling, during high school, and my years at Florida A&M University (shout out to HBCUs!). But from other women in finance, once I started my career path in earnest? None.
But, when it comes to my professional success, I do have a role model who stands out to me: my mother.
I’ve always been a go-getter, and I got it from my mom! She was an entrepreneur who owned multiple beauty salons. She taught me how to work, and most importantly, how to work for yourself. She taught me one of the lessons that I impart on my own clients on every call I have: never allow someone else to determine the fate of your career.
The success that I’ve had is due, in large and heaping parts, to her. And if I hadn’t seen that all that was possible and attainable with my own eyes, I never would have been able to do it the way that I have.
And that’s what a role model does! She opens your eyes to YOUR potential. She helps you see that next to all of those closed doors are windows. She allows you to visualize what your life could look like and how you can get there.
So! Women in finance! If there’s any one way you’re trying to invest in yourself now, my advice is simple and far-reaching: find a role model. Thank yourself later.