Voices from the top: Josette Rizk, director of institutional clients, MEA, Invesco
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Voices from the top: Josette Rizk, director of institutional clients, MEA, Invesco

Voices from the top: Josette Rizk, director of institutional clients, MEA, Invesco

Invesco’s client-centric approach has enabled its EMEA business to grow in assets under management

The thing about unconscious bias is that it is unconscious: it is not a deliberate strategy to prevent women from succeeding. This is an important distinction.

Gender bias is one of the most common forms of unconscious bias in the workplace, and women in the financial sector are particularly vulnerable to its implications. Men rarely set out to impede a woman’s success – because when it comes to performance, we are equal. If of course, we choose to be.

Diversity within the workplace has been proven to be beneficial for the long-term success of a company. In a world facing more complicated challenges similar to what was brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the way we pull together and face the challenges in an immensely difficult operating environment is what makes us successful – there is simply no more room for gender politics.

At Invesco, our client-centric approach enabled our EMEA business to grow in assets under management. We have been able to achieve this success by delivering for our clients through collaborative thinking, a unified structure and by recognising that clients wish to consolidate their service providers.

Consolidation is a dynamic that will continue into 2022, with clients likely to reduce the number of providers and focus on limited partnerships. The global macro-outlook will however continue to be a challenge, and asset managers will have to navigate volatility as the world moves past Covid.

The volatility is tempered somewhat by a slow return to normality – many of us are now back in the office and that is very good news for face-to-face collaboration. It is refreshing to be back together as one unified team, bouncing ideas off each other and going the extra mile to deliver even more for our clients.

As a woman in finance, a domain typically dominated by men, I have always thrived by directing my focus on ensuring that we are supporting our clients in achieving their objective and delivering a consultative service. The willingness to learn from my clients and peers is a key component to progressing my career and pushing myself forward – but of course, male or female, there are times when everybody faces challenges in reaching the top.

When it comes to the ‘glass ceiling’ that women face, there may well be circumstances where unconscious bias means that a man might prefer working with another man. We’re all social beings. But I believe those instincts very quickly dissipate when a woman steps up and delivers on the job.

When you give results, that glass ceiling will ultimately shatter. My advice to women who want to climb the ladder is to find an ally who can help them navigate things – and push them to challenge the status quo. They can also act as a role model to learn how to gain confidence in your ideas. It is true that women are generally more ‘agreeable’, but if we leverage it to secure good outcomes for ourselves, then we can achieve confidence in a different way.

With confidence, the rest will follow – challenging yourself and those around you, working outside of your comfort zone and advocating for even greater diversity within the workplace. It’s all there for the taking; as women we just need to realise there is still a difficult and long journey ahead, but we should stay focused on achieving our ambitions.

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