Inclusive group is providing opportunities for those who don't find networks elsewhere
While the Women in ETFs (WE) group launched to increase women’s industry inclusion, it’s now supporting people of colour and new Canadians.
“I’ve heard, first-hand, from many people of color and new Canadians who joined our organization and feel they have a network now, and it isn’t just women,” Tammy Cash, co-head of the Canadian chapter, told WP.
“Women in ETFs has really been a lifeline for a lot of men as well, men who maybe don’t network via sport and would like an equal opportunity to meet leadership,” she said. “Whether it’s our annual events, education seminars, or social events, I think they feel a real acceptance that they don’t find elsewhere.
“That’s been really rewarding to see that we had this mandate of connect, support, and inspire at the outset, and it’s become a very inclusive space for men and women who don’t find a network anywhere else.”
WE’s Canadian chapter began in 2014, soon after the global organization launched in the U.S. Now, 30% of Canada’s 500 members – and 17% of the 6,500 global members in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North America – are male.
“Our mandate is to be inclusive, and men are an important part of solving the challenges that the industry faces,” explained Cash. “We’re really blessed with the membership we have from men within the finance community. They’re committed to the issues of diversity and inclusion, and they are active as it relates to mentorship. They recognize that it can’t be done by women alone.”
Cash said WE’s “never been busier” than during the pandemic. The Canadian chapter held sessions on diversity and inclusion, mental health, and managing life-work balance in COVID, which impacted both genders. It also participated in many global events, including a 24-hour around-the clock global conference and partnering with more than 100 exchanges around the world to ring the bell to celebrate International Women’s Day.
WE has a career centre to support those entering the ETF industry. It’s also maintained its mentorship program with a lockdown process to support new industry entrants and those wanting to climb the ladder. Some mentors were formerly mentees, but all are mindful of supporting women returning to work after starting families. WE also launched a speaker’s bureau to raise women’s profile and provided speaker and media training.
“Part of our mandate is advocating and building a community of peers and giving talented, capable women the opportunities to present on panels and conferences,” said Cash, who’s encouraged companies and conference organizers to spotlight women so they can climb into senior management.
The industry’s come a long way since Canada was the first to launch ETFs in 1990. She said eight firms manufactured ETFs when WE began in 2014; now there are more than 30. WE’s also looking at launching more Canadian chapters in Vancouver, Quebec, and the Maritimes.
“Our goal is to position WE members to succeed, whoever the WE member is, and build that community so people can learn, share, and grow,” said Cash. “Our network now makes it feel like we’ve got a real eco-system here and it’s really nice that it’s had an impact on the industry.”