In late 2017, the #MeToo movement sprung to life, rapidly gaining momentum and bringing national attention to the widespread sexual harassment that exists in our society. Stories of sexual misconduct dominated the news and fueled the national discourse, permeating conversations at the dinner table, in the workplace, and across industries.
Sexual harassment has long existed, but for what seemed like the first time, people were actually talking about it. Perhaps more importantly, people were actually listening.
Sexual Harassment in the Financial Planning Industry
It’s no secret that the financial planning industry is male-dominated, nor that sexual harassment is widespread across the industry; these two facts are not mutually exclusive. For nearly two decades, the number of female CFP professionals has remained stagnant at 23%, despite industry-wide efforts to attract more women to the profession. While the industry employs efforts to be more inclusive and draw more women in, the widespread prevalence of sexual harassment continues to repel women from the field. Some studies even suggest that when it comes to the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct, the financial planning industry fares the worst.
This is particularly noticeable at industry events and conferences, where stories of sexual misconduct are all too common. Stories range from subtler forms of sexism, like disparaging comments, to the more overt, like unwanted physical contact. None of it is okay.
Yet we continue to hear stories of sexual misconduct in the financial planning industry, with troubling new stories surfacing every conference season. As an industry, we must take action to prevent sexual harassment for several reasons. The most obvious—and important—is that it’s the right thing to do.
Perhaps less obvious is that our industry’s reputation is at stake. Pervasive sexual harassment not only takes a toll on those who experience it, but it takes a toll on the industry itself. Unchecked charges of sexual misconduct threaten industry morale and character, which should concern us all. This is a shared problem that necessitates a shared solution.
An Opportunity for Change
As a network of nearly 700 advisors, XYPN is in a unique position to set the standard and leverage our influence to make a difference in the financial planning industry. Having observed the dynamics of sexual harassment in the industry for years, and realizing XYPN’s position of influence, co-founders Alan Moore and Michael Kitces saw an opportunity to make substantive change.
They seized this opportunity at XYPN LIVE, opening our 2017 annual conference with the introduction of a new anti-harassment Code of Conduct just weeks before The New York Times broke the Harvey Weinstein story and the #MeToo movement started gaining ground. This zero-tolerance policy safeguards against sexual harassment at our conference, strictly prohibiting harassment of any kind. To further cultivate a culture of accountability, our conference app includes a function for reporting inappropriate conduct.
This same policy will be in full force at XYPN LIVE 2018 in St. Louis this fall.
Since its introduction, our conference Code of Conduct has gained national praise, drawing the attention of publications such as WealthManagement.com and ThinkAdvisor for its firm stance against sexual harassment and its strong spirit of inclusivity.
As stated in our policy, “Our conference is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience to everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), or technology choices.”
Pushing for equality, diversity, and inclusion has always been part of the XYPN culture, as is reflected in our internal hiring processes and in the advisors we support. Our anti-harassment Code of Conduct formalized this ever-present commitment to inclusion.
Conversations about topics like sexual harassment and inclusivity aren’t easy. But they’re essential. Avoiding these tough conversations because we’re afraid to have them only contributes to the problem. Addressing sexual harassment in our industry when it has been condoned for so long is new territory for many of us. But XYPN has never been known to shy away from the uncharted; we proudly embrace innovation and push for the changes we know our industry needs.
We push boundaries, and when it comes to sexual harassment, it’s no different. We’ve taken a stand, and we’re proud of it.
Making the financial planning profession more open and welcoming to a broader diversity of financial advisors is a cornerstone of the XYPN movement. Our network is chock-full of up-and-coming leaders eager to make positive changes for the profession, and for the industry as a whole. XYPN advisors continue to lead the paradigm shift away from outdated industry standards, policies, and habits and towards a better, more inclusive way of doing things.
We can’t change industry culture overnight, but we can certainly work towards it. Creating an environment that fosters inclusion through the adoption of an anti-harassment policy at our conference is a step in the right direction. Piece by piece, we can work together to fix what’s broken in the financial planning industry.
About the Author
As XYPN’s Content Manager, Kelly is tasked with communicating the Network's value proposition to the world. For years, Kelly has helped organizations tell their stories in ways that inspire others to listen, and to care. Her penchant for a well-crafted sentence, good grammar, and clever wordplay has earned her the moniker “Word Whiz” around the XYPN office. She’s thrilled to share XYPN’s story with you and the rest of the world.
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