Penny Pennington: Don’t Be “One of the Guys” in a Guy’s World

March 22 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: I'll Take a Trade

For a long time, I thought that it was a good thing to be “one of the guys.” All the cool girls are, right? They can school the other dudes at beer pong. They can bump fists and argue about fantasy football. But here’s why that’s a faulty strategy: By being a guys’ girl, you’re assuming men are one-dimensional.

(I know, you’re like, Wait, she’s defending guys now?) Hear me out. Women who dominate at beer pong are just, simply, good at it. Saying a woman is “one of the guys” assumes that all men must be good at beer pong and, as said lady beer pong champion would say, they ain’t. Today, be one of the Nicoles or the Tyrones or the whatever your name is.


Typically, one of the reasons why you believe you have to be one of the guys is because you’re in a male-dominated atmosphere. By being yourself—a complex, multi-dimensional goddess—you’re setting a precedent of showing your individuality to women for years to come. Today, we’re talking about women in finance, a clear space where men are dominating and where women make up only 15 percent of traders in investment banks. CNBC says banks want to embrace more women (how nice) and that shareholders are increasingly asking for more transparent reports on diversity. That’s a start.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Penny Pennington, Managing Partner of Edward Jones

OK, so what’s a trader? Well, it’s not to be confused with a traitor, for starters. Put simply, it’s a person who buys and sells financial assets in a financial market. One of the biggest brokerage firms is Edward Jones. You’ve probably seen their commercials, where customers talk about their financial futures. As a managing partner at Edward Jones, Penny Pennington is the only woman to head a big-time American brokerage firm.

In nearly a century, Edward Jones has only had a handful of managing partners. Clearly, it’s stiff competition to assume this role. In this role, Penny has to make sure the company is headed in the right direction. After all, holding the reigns of 43,000 associates and steering 7 million clients is a pretty major responsibility.

Based in St. Louis, Penny takes leadership positions within Edward Jones, like the LGBT+ and Allies Business Resource Group. She’s been with the company for 19 years. When Forbes magazine and Statista surveyed 50,000 employees of different companies, they determined that Edward Jones was one of the best employers for diversity. It’s the second year in a row the biz has earned such praise, which is thanks, in part, to women like Penny.

Penny shares that encouraging women to rise to high levels should be a community-wide effort. She admits that the women who are thriving all around her were certainly encouraged to do so by the mentorship of others. So how do you get to a place like Penny? She suggests a few key concepts.

First, “proclaim your passions.” Don’t explore what you think others’ want from you. Don’t follow a path that others followed. Go your own way and listen to your inner voice. Next, don’t disqualify your accomplishments, your expertise, or yourself. Finally, accept the challenges in life rather than only agreeing to what’s easy.


One woman who took many-a-difficult road is beloved and renowned history-maker Oprah Winfrey. She said:

"Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create."

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