For International Women’s Day 2022, Monica Gogna, head of financial regulation UK at EY Law, spoke to ETF Stream about her experience as an Indian woman who has climbed the ranks in financial services over her two-decade-long career.

Having worked at a number of law firms, Gogna (pictured) has also had an active role in advocacy, including being one of the founding members of Women in ETFs EMEA as well as working as part of the Fearless Girl campaign and the Diversity Project’s #FishOutOfWater campaign.

Speaking on ETFs, Gogna said one of the reasons she decided to get involved in the space is because she saw it as “a very inclusive industry”. 

“I have always felt as if I have a voice at the table, particularly as a lawyer advising the creation, structuring and distribution of products,” she said.

“You need to have people that will listen to you and understand when you tell them something is not going to work. I have always found at every level of the ETF industry, people have been very supportive.”

However, despite what she described as the “evolution in discussion” around diversity, diversity equity and inclusion, she stressed there are still challenges to progressing in an industry where one does not match stereotypical, descriptive characteristics. 

“The challenges for me as an Indian woman are often because of my subject matter. I am a financial regulation specialist and that is something that is novel to many people like me,” Gogna added.

“One of the things I have found challenging at times is having my voice heard and being seen as someone who is a lead adviser in financial regulation when the stereotype is someone who is not like me.” 

“I have sometimes encountered feelings of imposter syndrome – ‘why am I here?’, ‘why am I being asked to do a keynote speech?’, ‘why would somebody ask me to lead a panel discussion?’ – then I realise it is because I have done the work, I am an expert in something and someone is recognising that in me. Sometimes the challenges are internal and some are external.” 

Offering reassurance to others in a similar situation, Gogna said feeling out of place or isolated is something many go through. The solution is creating an environment where people can talk about inclusion and belonging in an open way.  

“Sometimes, it is about increasing awareness of people’s individual experiences and challenges they have faced in the workplace. I have learned a lot just by listening to what people had to say through the Diversity Project’s #FishOutOfWater campaign.

“For example, people spoke about their day-to-day challenges ranging from how one may feel at an after-work drinks party to a number of descriptions of how when one becomes more senior within the workplace, still feeling like an ‘imposter’ and dealing with those feelings.

“For me, what has resonated is hearing these first-hand accounts and knowing that there is some comfort in speaking about our individual and collective experiences to increase awareness. I am a firm believer that by highlighting these challenges, it can encourage people can make practical changes to create a more inclusive environment.

“Sometimes, knowing that you are not alone, can help bring a level of comfort and support to your day-to-day life – this is something I am very proud of as a result of the #FishOutOfWater campaign.

Concluding, Gogna offered a statement on the ongoing invasion of Ukraine: “Myself and EY would like to say we stand in solidarity with the women who have been impacted by the conflict in Ukraine.”

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