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International Women's Day 2021: An Interview with Brianne Toole

Posted on March 2021

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This year's International's Women's Daytheme #ChooseToChallenge represents the idea of challenging norms related to gender equality to create change. At Selby Jennings, we choose to challenge and promote gender diversity and inclusion.
Brianne Toole, Head of Corporate & Investment Management - Europe at Selby Jennings, shares her thoughts on this year's theme, and how she chooses to challenge in her role.
What does the #ChooseToChallenge message mean to you?

​#ChooseToChallenge is a message that I can relate to in a few different ways. Challenge norms and what is expected of you. Just because there hasn't been a manager or leader who looks like you or thinks like you - doesn't mean that it's impossible! You need to believe that if you challenge something head on, you can make a positive difference. Challenging these norms and unconscious bias consistently will also allow you to get to know those around you better and can help create a stronger team. You also need to challenge behaviors that don't promote a inclusive workplace.

What sort of conversations around gender equality do you have with your clients in your role? Has Covid-19 had an impact on gender equality?

Gender equality is a very important point of discussion within Financial Services - particularly in Investment Banking, which is my core recruitment market. Often, there are relatively even numbers of men and women interested in entering into Investment Banking; however, as you go higher up the ranks, there seem to be fewer and fewer women. The most difficult challenge our clients have is in retaining female talent as they often leave Investment Banking for work that can provide more flexibility. I actually think Covid-19 could have a positive impact in the long run as it is showing senior bankers that they are able to get the job done with increased flexibility and without traveling to meet with clients. Hopefully moving forward they retain these lessons learned.

​What role can recruiters play in challenging norms and creating change?

Recruiters can play an important role in challenging norms and creating change in a few different ways. One is by ensuring that the scope of our search targets a diverse range of candidates. If more diverse profiles get in front of hiring managers, those candidates will have more chances to progress in their careers. We can also consult our clients on the reasons why it is so important to create a diverse team. Particularly in finance, there can be a danger of having a homogeneous team that becomes victim to 'group think.' Having a staff with a greater diversity of thought has been proven to lead to a more successful and profitable business.

What advice would you give to a company trying to create a diverse hiring strategy?

I would advise them to take a look at how they market themselves both as an organization and through advertisements. There have been studies about how women are less likely to apply for adverts where they don't feel they fit 100% of the requirements. By adjusting the way they advertise their company as an employer of choice, they could attract a wider range of talent. Also, they need to make sure they speak to the women in their organization about what attracted them to the company initially and why they have decided to stay. They should highlight these points to all prospective employees. Additionally, there needs to be a manner for employees to come forward with any inequities they see at the company so they can fix them and not turn away talent.

As a female leader, what advice would you give to other aspiring leaders in overcoming potential gender biases and achieving career success?

I would advise aspiring leaders to first create tangible goals and markers for career success. Next, you need to really believe you can achieve these goals and take steps every single take to making them happen. You also need a strong support network both internally and externally. Internally, look for mentors that you can identify with and also those that you do not appear to have a ton in common with. I have found that getting advise from someone who thinks differently can help you professionally and personally because it'll help challenge you to try things differently or to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Externally, know who of family and friends you can go to when you are struggling - people who will help build you up and believe in you.

About Brianne Toole

I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in the United States, but grew up mainly in Connecticut (about an hour outside of New York City). I graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BA in Management Consulting in 2014. I joined Selby Jennings shortly after in the New York office focused on Investment Banking recruitment. I hit my Principal promotion in 9 months and hired my first junior at just about my 12 month mark in the business. Within the next two years, I became the head of Corporate & Investment Banking and Private Equity with a team of 10.

I then moved out to San Francisco to head up Selby Jennings on the West Coast. Over the two years I was there, we got up to 10 consultants covering Investment Banking, Technology, & Quantitative Research, Trading, & Analytics.

I then moved to London to head up the Corporate & Investment Banking team in the fall of 2019. I'm looking forward to continue the growth of that team in Europe and whatever comes next in my Selby Jennings career!

View other International Women's Day content or visit our Diversity & Inclusion resources.

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