Siân Allsopp was impressed with Morgan Stanley, even before she’d started working there. Put before several senior women during the interview process and enlightened about the firm’s collaborative, diverse and progressive culture, she knew it was where she wanted to be.
“It showed a real understanding by the firm to put me in front of those women,” says Siân. “It proved to me there was a pathway here for me. At interviews for past roles at other firms, I was typically interviewed by male technologists.”
Morgan Stanley has invested a lot of time, money and effort in its working environment to make it appealing for all. “This can be everything from the physical setting of the office and break-out areas through to providing a huge range of diversity networks for staff to join, collaborate and learn from each other,” adds Siân.
Within a month of joining Morgan Stanley in the enterprise computing team of the technology department, Siân was engaged in a Female Technology Executive Directors’ network. They meet regularly and she knows she can reach out to these peers for any support or advice.
This support for women in the workplace stems all the way from graduates upwards. For example, Morgan Stanley engages with women’s societies at universities, and speaks to female students about the benefits of working in the finance sector and critically, having a career in technology. Graduates receive extensive networking opportunities, plenty of guidance and training, are assigned mentors, and form a strong bond within their annual cohort.
Similarly for experienced, external recruitment, Morgan Stanley recognises the importance of diversity and is keen to see this reflected in their organisation. Siân feels it’s a great place for women to work, often putting them front and centre of the organisation.
“I get involved in a lot of the interviews for my division, even if I can’t technically interview the candidate because they’re in a different field (for example, they’re an engineer and I’m a service manager),” explains Siân. “I can take them for lunch or coffee and answer their questions and help them understand the culture here. When making a decision about a new role, it’s important to have a more informal chat to help with the decision making process on both sides.”
Morgan Stanley is doing a lot with its retention, too. It’s putting significant effort into how it manages benefits, such as extending paternity leave to four weeks and enhancing shared parental leave, enabling men to take a greater role in childcare, which in turn allows women to be more active members of the workforce.
Siân doesn’t have children herself, but says the firm’s flexibility stretches in all directions. “I’ve had a couple of challenges that I’ve had to accommodate within my recent working life. I had two significant bereavements within the space of 10 months,” explains Siân. “I needed to help to support my family and myself during these times. The firm were great and really helped me to balance my priorities.”
“So, there’s the care side (150 hours of back-up child/elder care per dependant, per year), but also allowing us to do the things we want to do with our life. I personally work more hours than most of my friends, but I have a level of flexibility in how I do that, which they don’t have. When required, I can do work during the evening or come in a bit later, things like that.”
Extending from that is a give-back culture. Morgan Stanley expects its staff to be generous with their time, money and expertise. To help promote this, the firm runs a global volunteering month every summer. Colleagues can take part in a one-off event like weeding a park or painting a mural on a charity building, or a longer term engagement. “With the firm’s support, I teach for a day every year at a secondary school,” says Siân.
The firm also has a Return to Work programme, which is now in its 6th year, so when women want to re-join the workplace after a career break, they can take part in a 12-week internship scheme. Participants are placed in divisions that match their skills and experience, and at the end of it, Morgan Stanley looks to convert them to a full-time role. It’s proving to be a hugely successful programme.
Overall, the firm does all it can to help women, and the workforce generally, achieve their ambitions. It is very focused on increasing the pipeline of women into senior roles and was an early signatory of the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter. “When I joined, I was pretty clear with my manager what I wanted to get out of my career, so expectations were set on both sides. I could be honest about what I wanted to achieve and he could say if that was realistic or what might be required. My boss has been great in terms of what I need to do to get to the next level. It’s a two-way street.”
There’s plenty of practical training available within the firm from a range of experts to help support continuous growth. There’s also broader training for issues like identifying and supporting mental health issues and dealing with unconscious bias. “For our women’s network here in London, we got an external trainer to come in and help us with our personal branding,” says Siân.
In terms of advice for women starting out in the finance world, Siân insists they need to speak up and make plain what they want to do. “If people can understand what you’re trying to achieve or where you’re trying to get to, they can help you. Quite often women think if they work hard they’ll be recognised for it, but sometimes you have to say when you’re interested in a particular job or project, or want to be promoted, or if there’s another role you’d like to pursue internally, or a training course you want to do. Whatever it is, Morgan Stanley will look to support you to reach that target.”
Discover more about Morgan Stanley's collaborative, diverse and progressive culture here