From the beginning of my career to this day, I am often the only woman at the table. It started with my first accounting role (in the oil and gas industry) and continues in my leadership roles in finance and technology.
Working with smart, creative, and passionate people is key for me. I am very comfortable working with people of any gender, age, race or religion. And I have, quite luckily, never felt set back or disadvantaged because of my gender.
That being said, I have begun to feel we are missing the mark in the finance industry because we leaders and executives are not proactively creating diversity at the top. Many think that passive acceptance of diversity is enough, but too often that merely produces more of the same. Nothing changes without effort. Since most leaders are male, I think we need more male leaders to be actively promoting female leadership. Women leaders also need to be more assertive and less sensitive to negative feedback. We should not expect to be treated differently but rather accept that it can be a tough, direct and sometimes unfriendly place at the top.
I have made it a personal mission to do my part to be proactive, starting in my own back yard. At defi, three of the four original investors and two of the five current executives are women. We have a variety of nationalities and ages at the “C” level. We even have a millennial on the exec team!
I have been blessed to count industry veteran Elizabeth Webb as my mentor and friend. She has taught me many business and leadership lessons and encouraged me to pay it forward and mentor other young women.
Also, I have proudly played a part in helping AFSA (American Financial Services Association) establish an industry leading Women’s Leadership Council to encourage and support members to grow gender diversity in executive ranks. It was a memorable moment in our first council meeting when one long time AFSA member said it brought tears to her eyes to see a room filled with successful women focused on supporting other women leaders in finance.
If finance leaders make a point of paying it forward with a proactive focus on diversity we will eliminate this gap and reap the benefits that diverse leadership provides our industry, our companies, and our customers.
Georgine Muntz is the Chief Operating Officer at defi SOLUTIONS, a Dallas, TX-based organization offering a suite of solutions to the auto lending segment. Her executive career includes assignments with Exeter Finance, GM Financial/AmeriCredit and Grant Thornton. Ms. Muntz earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and is a CPA. Follow her on Twitter.