Diversity in Financial Services

A gender-non-conforming perspective

Georgie Mitton
Investment Writer, Nutmeg

There’s a saying that privilege is invisible to those who have it. My privilege is no longer invisible to me, but in the financial services sector I see lots of people – many of them male, well-educated, white – who don’t see theirs.

I still remember my first contact with mansplaining. In a bar in Canary Wharf, having after-work drinks with a friend, I fell into conversation with a man we had just met. In his early fifties, friendly and a little drunk, he was there to celebrate the birthday of a colleague who worked, like he did, for an investment bank. He chatted to me about his house in Surrey, his collection of guitars, the achievements of his children and his job.

It was then that an uneasy feeling verging on embarrassment came over me. He seemed to have assumed I knew nothing about finance when in fact I had recently been made the deputy editor of a financial magazine. As he rambled on, I became more uncomfortable. Should I say something? But I began to question myself. Was there something I had done to make him so dramatically misread my situation?

I should probably mention I was wearing a long wig, dangly brass earrings and a knee-length turquoise-coloured dress.

I think I have an unusual perspective on gender inequality. My birth certificate and passport say I’m male. I was raised in a typical way for a boy and have enjoyed the privileges that come with that – as well as being white and middle class. Yet I have never had a strong internal sense of maleness. I would prefer to say I’m non-binary, which means neither male nor female, and genderfluid, which, for me, means I express myself as male on some days and female on others.

I think my situation is unusual because I have encountered the world as a man and, to a limited extent, I have encountered it as a woman too. Clearly, my circumstances are different to those of other women. When I express myself as female, people tend to read me as a trans woman, which comes with its own set of assumptions. But I believe my life has given me a window into some typical female experiences. Catcalling on the street, being talking over, being smilingly patronised by men in bars – I’ve had all that (as well as a few nice things that don’t usually happen to men, such as being offered a seat on the bus).

There’s a saying that privilege is invisible to those who have it. My privilege is no longer invisible to me, but in the financial services sector I see lots of people – many of them male, well-educated, white – who don’t see theirs.

Back to the man in the bar in Canary Wharf who had assumed, based on my appearance, that I knew nothing about the financial world. I’m not angry with him. He didn’t patronise me out of malice, but out of unconscious bias – in other words, out of ignorance.

I suppose I could have told him what I did for a living and made the situation less awkward, but he never thought to ask.

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