On Thursday, August 15th, the first Women’s Club of Clear Street meeting took place with 100% attendance. We sat down with Carmen Saenz and Erin Person, the two co-founders, to discuss the reasons for its creation and what they hope to achieve with the group in the future.
Q: Why did you want to start a women’s group?
Erin: This is an industry where there aren’t many women. We thought it was important to try to further the relationships with the women who work here and provide an opportunity for connections, mentorship, and interdisciplinary learning. We’re really trying to create a support network for the current and future women of Clear Street.
We have also noticed that most social events in place industry-wide are more male-coded activities like golf, basketball and poker nights. Women tend to self-select out of those events. We wanted to make sure that women weren’t missing out on opportunities to connect just because they didn’t want to play basketball.
Women’s groups provide a comfortable environment for female employees to connect and communicate on a leveled playing field. It’s important to have a space where women don’t feel outnumbered and out-voiced.
Carmen: The two industries that we’re in between, finance and technology, are two of the top industries known for having historically small female populations. In order to try and combat that trend at Clear Street, we wanted to create a group where female employees felt comfortable to ask questions and connect with one another. We’re dealing with building something that is brand new and looking to disrupt an industry. In order to be successful, you have to have a group of people that are comfortable asking each other questions, collaborating and learning from each other. If someone doesn’t feel comfortable doing that, you want to give them the tools to succeed. We believe the women’s group can help break down those barriers and create an environment that fosters open and honest conversations.
Q: Why did you choose to open the group up to everyone, not just exclusively women?
Carmen: I think our goal in creating a resource group like the women’s club is to provide an open and safe space. If we excluded people just because of their gender, we would be contradicting that goal. We want to lead by example with that mindset and welcome people. A work environment should be open; everyone should be treated fairly and have equal opportunity to share ideas and participate. We’re calling it a women’s club because it’s created and led by women but membership is open to everyone.
Erin: Also, as it currently stands, women’s success in finance still depends on buy-in from their male co-workers. It’s very hard to succeed in this industry without male allyship. We opened the women’s club to everyone in an effort to promote gender equality and break down these industry-wide limitations.
Q: What do you hope to achieve with this group?
Erin: One of my goals is to have our organization result in stronger relationships between the women who work here. We have the opportunity to learn so much from each other and I want this group to be a place that fosters natural interdisciplinary learning.
I also hope we can build something that suits the needs of the women at Clear Street in what they’re really looking to get out of a women’s club. We need to create something that’s customized to our company to be as impactful as possible.
Carmen: I really want to create a company that lasts and one of the ways I think we’ll achieve that is by paying attention to things like diversity, which includes making an effort to hire more women. We hope by having the women’s club, Clear Street will become a more desirable and comfortable environment for women to join. Erin and my thinking is if we have this resource group, women won’t feel as outnumbered on a male-dominated team. Even though they may still be the minority on the team, we can help bridge that gap by providing female support and a platform for women to be heard.
Q: A year from now, what do you envision?
Carmen: I mean to reflect on how far we’ve come, when I first joined Clear Street eight months ago, there were only 6 women working here and now we have 12. So we’ve doubled the female population in under a year. It’s a positive move in the right direction and I would like to continue moving in that direction.
A year from now, my hope is really to have a happy, healthy population of employees that feel heard and supported. We hope the Women’s Club is a catalyst for creating more employee resource groups.
Erin: What I’d like to see is variety in the activities we’re conducting and more voluntary leadership of those specific events. We’ve already seen women taking ownership of activities that they’d like to see happen in the group.
Again, this is something that’s grown really organically from our organization. We don’t want it to be a group where employees feel obligated to attend but rather they want to contribute and make an impact.
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