Gender diversity continues to be an important and ever emerging topic; not only do women represent half of the U.S. population, but they are growing in their economic power and influence, yet continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles. Creating and sustaining a culture where everyone feels part of the company’s mission and included in the work is a major factor in a company achieving gender equality. It’s important that each individual’s talents are recognized and invested in and each person has the opportunity to create the work schedule they desire so they may experience work life fluidity. It’s essential that companies embrace the differences in their workforce since this allows for diversity, and diversity breeds innovation and growth.

It’s been proven that companies that practice gender balance are 15 percent more likely to have higher earnings than their peers. In fact, among all Fortune 500 companies, the ones with the highest representation of women on their boards significantly outperform the others. Pacific Advisors, one of California’s largest financial services firms, is seeing the results of its commitment to achieving gender balance and equality. Over the last four years, management positions held by women at Pacific Advisors has grown from 10 percent to nearly 50 percent. In addition, in this traditionally male-dominated industry, more than 36 percent of the agency’s workforce is female.

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In recognition of the firm’s commitment and measurable actions in achieving and sustaining gender equality in the workplace, Pacific Advisors was also recently awarded the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) certification, the premier standard and global assessment methodology for evaluating corporate commitment to gender equality.

When it comes to gender equality, the benefits have included increased productivity, enhanced services and a greater connection to our clients. There is no better time for women to join the financial services industry. As we act deliberately to transform our company culture to be more receptive to women, we also realize that our gender-diverse teams provide more thoughtful analysis, varied perspectives and increase the likelihood of our clients viewing their financial representatives as partners and trusted advisors.

Our firm has honed its recruitment and promotion procedures, company policies, leadership development opportunities, mentoring programs, workplace flexibility and company culture to support gender equality. We aim to be more inclusive. When we learned that many of our staff had difficulty managing early morning trainings due to school drop off routines we changed our training start times. This is a small change, but it speaks volumes. We listened to their concerns and made changes to support their growth and success.

The firm’s mission of having a minimum of 30 percent women in our sales force will require us to hire 15 or more women by the end of the year. This represents an annual increase of approximately 10 percent. Rather than simply hoping for gender balance, Pacific Advisors will pursue female candidates in California, Oregon, and Nevada by leveraging the recent EDGE certification, hosting women’s career events throughout the year, and growing female study groups internally to provide the support women need to help them grow their practice and build unity among them and ultimately drive referrals and introductions.

Financial services continues to be predominately male-dominated, so it’s important for us to highlight why more women should consider this career. Firms of all sizes should focus their efforts on creating a gender balanced workplace with an inclusive talent pipeline at all levels. This is a great time for women to seize opportunities to advance their careers — and their lives — on their own terms and work in the financial services industry. The financial advisor role features workplace flexibility, equal pay for equal work, and the ability to make a positive impact in the lives of the clients they serve.

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