Introducing the CHX Women’s Forum — “Chicks of CHX”

At the beginning of this year, Emily Kasparov, CHX’s associate general counsel, participated in the Women’s Collective Session at the Security Traders Association of Chicago’s annual Mid-Winter Meeting. The panel covered a wide range of topics relating to women in finance, from the general benefits of diversity to advice on how to overcome the “confidence gap” of working in a male-dominated field. (Numbers vary depending on the study, but this BloombergView piece from last year provides a number of stats on the gender imbalance in finance.)

The panel discussion was lively, but more importantly, it made us realize that there was much more we could do to take initiative on the panel’s talking points. After talking it over with different people at the exchange, we decided to form the CHX Women’s Forum.

At a high level, the primary goal of the group is to support each other in the many facets of our lives as working women. We are holding monthly meetings with agendas generated from ideas put forth from the group — that might include topics such as work-life balance, stress maintenance, mentoring and women-based industry organization updates, and more. Our planning committee consists of four women in four different departments of the exchange (in addition to Emily, the committee includes SVP & Chief Compliance Officer, Marguerite Donovan; Sr. Systems Analyst, Valentina Krasitskaya; and Market Surveillance Director, Karen Calvin) so that every employee will know someone who is helping to organize the group.

This is not intended to be specific, work-related training. Rather, it is intended to be a voluntary, supportive outlet for CHX women by CHX women. We want it to be both empowering and fun, and to that end — and playing off of the pronunciation of our acronym in industry circles — we are calling our group “Chicks of CHX.”

About a quarter of the exchange’s 80 employees are women, and so far we’ve been thrilled to see participation from a great majority of those female employees. These women also span across every department at the exchange, including our board members, and it has provided a unique opportunity to bring everyone together. Many of us have worked together for years, but have rarely interacted on a personal level with people in other departments. We came away from our first introductory meeting blown away by the stories of the diverse educational backgrounds and rich experiences of the women of CHX.

Even after just a couple months, we’re noticing a difference in interactions around the office. When we run into each other, we’ve found that we’re asking more about each other’s lives instead of only discussing work-related matters. Many women are also contacting the organizing committee, requesting certain meeting times so that they can be sure to attend.

We’ve already seen the internal positive effects of the Women’s Forum, but our goals extend outward as well. We want to bring in outside speakers to share with our group. We plan to help group members find other industry groups they can be a part of, whether within their specific area (law, regulation, IT, etc.) or the financial services industry in general.

We also want to reach out to and help the next generation. Marguerite and Valentina recently spoke to students — the majority of whom were female — at Taft High School, providing an overview of the financial markets and stressing the importance of education to open up career opportunities.

In keeping with the spirit of outreach, and after learning about the amazing backgrounds of our colleagues during our first few meetings, we have decided to start this blog series to showcase some of the incredible women on our team. Roughly once a month, we will be profiling a different member of the CHX Women’s Forum, giving our wonderful women a platform to share their backgrounds and experiences in the industry.

If you’re interested in this series, we encourage you to follow our Medium account (or the CHX Twitter account). We’ll continually come back to this post and update it with links to the profiles once they are posted. We hope you enjoy the series!

-The “Chicks of CHX” Planning Committee