The changes have come slowly, but they’ve been coming for a few decades now.
As women have more and more become business professionals in fields like insurance and finance, they’ve been paying it forward as much as possible.
A few decades ago there weren’t nearly as many older mentors to help them navigate the start of their careers, no one to ask about opening up Roth IRA’s, or how many employees is too many at the beginning, or any of a thousand questions that come up when you’re in your 20’s and don’t know nearly as much as people a few decades older.
Lisa Decina-Muroff remembers those days, because she was one of those young women who didn’t have many elders to lean on. That’s one of the reasons why she and many like her try to give back as much as they can.
Decina-Muroff’s most recent venture in that vein is the Long Island chapter of Women in Finance and Business, more commonly known as WIFS.
“I think the kinds of questions young women professionals are asking now aren’t that different from the past, but there are more of us to ask those questions to,” Decina-Muroff said. “And today’s young women are very grateful.”
WIFS advertises itself as operating “for the purpose of attracting, develop and advancing women in the insurance and financial services industry. Members, partners and sponsors benefit from mutual respect for everyone’s professional development and focus interaction and access to member information on activity that supports our mission.”
Their recently-installed board includes people like Decina-Muroff, a founder and President of DKM Risk Advisors who also has a background in construction; Stephanie Larkin, the founder and CEO of Red Penguin Books and Web Solutions; and Bonnie Dougherty, a senior vice president of Valley National Bank.
Most of the membership, Decina-Muroff said, come from all different fields besides insurance and financial services; women in marketing, law, real estate and accounting also participate in WIFS-LI.
Financial planning is a major area of concern for members, which is why WIFS tries to impart the wisdom of saving early and investing early in their careers.
Another area WIFS-LI helps in is mentorship for young high school and college kids. The organization has run workshops for Hofstra University and St. Joseph’s students, explaining things like why to become a Women Certified Business, and having experts answer questions from females who want to get into the field.
“It’s mentorship but it’s also helping them through hurdles as they get started,” Decina-Muroff said. “We’re explaining to them the importance of getting certified through the state, and things like that.”
WIFS-LI also wants to help women at all stages of their careers, not just at the beginning. The gains that have been made over the past few decades means there are more opportunities for women at the higher end of the business world, and Decina-Muroff said seeing powerful women at the top is inspiring to all.
“You talk to these young girls and they see what they can become,” she said. “We’re trying to educate and open up career paths for them that they may not have thought of.”