Intersectionality at Vanguard: Woman, Lesbian, Tenured Leader
Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society and has been observed annually in the month of March in the United States since 1987. As part of this year’s theme: Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories, we will highlight women from our Crew Resource Groups (CRGs) who will share their unique stories and perspectives.
In the first installment of this series, we feature Shawn H. as she shares her experience in our Out Professional Engagement Network (OPEN) and Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success (WILS)/WILS Finance CRGs.
Starting out fresh at any point in your career comes with many thoughts and feelings. Starting out fresh when you’re coming into a pre-established team as their new female leader adds an additional layer of complexity. Starting out fresh knowing you’ll need to come out to your new colleagues makes it something you have to really consider when switching your career path with a new employer. So why Vanguard?
The crew at Vanguard make it a place you want to be, and that comes through during the interview and onboarding processes. They make it something you want to be a part of now and in the future. Is everything perfect? No, of course not. Is it better/worse than other places? Maybe, depending on your perspective. Is it a place that acknowledges there is room for continued growth and development as an organization and for individuals? Absolutely.
Finding my Community
During my second week at Vanguard, I was introduced to individuals from two (of many) of our Crew Resource Groups (CRGs) – Out Professional Engagement Network (OPEN) and Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success (WILS)/WILS Finance. I’ve been a part of those both groups now for 2 years. The connections I’ve made and the engagement and learning opportunities from OPEN AND WILS have proven to be invaluable to my professional and personal growth as an individual and as a leader.
Walking in my truth as a female leader who also identifies as a lesbian has not always been easy. It also has not always been an option. I was not out in the workplace in the early years of my 23- year career in the financial industry. It wasn’t something we talked about. At Vanguard, I’m not only comfortable showing up each day as my authentic self, but I’m encouraged to do so. I can’t tell you how refreshing that feels. I walk in my truth as a lesbian leader at Vanguard and when I’m out in the community and in the industry, representing Vanguard.
Leading the Charge
Vanguard has nominated me to participate in three opportunities as a leader in my first two years with the firm. I’m honored to have been selected to participate in LEADERSHIP Philadelphia’s Class of 2023 Core Program. It is a nine-month program that enhances civic knowledge and self-awareness and enriches leadership skills. LEADERSHIP fellows receive non-profit board training, and board placement is offered to all interested participants and graduates. I’m also currently enrolled in a pilot leadership development program sponsored by the Finance Division’s senior leadership team. Finally, this March I kick off my journey in SIFMA’s Securities Industry Institute (SII) at UPENN Wharton School – Executive Education three-year program. The professional development opportunities provided by Vanguard demonstrate their commitment to leadership development, especially women in leadership. I may not have had visibility of women leaders from the LGBTQIA+ community in the financial industry in my past, so I feel grateful and honored that I may get to be that for others.