While Hollywood is typically seen one of the more well-documented industries as a difficult place for women to rise to the top, the financial industry is equally, if not even more, challenging. Though the percentage of men and women entering the finance industry is nearly equal, men on average experience a faster rise to the top than women. In fact, according to the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, only six of the 107 largest financial institutions in the United States were run by female CEOs in 2019. That said, things are starting to change. Though men may still be dominating C-suite offices, the gender gap will start to close as more women break down barriers, find mentors to help guide them in their careers, and learn more about existing opportunities in business and finance.
Meet Ruth Hill, vice president of finance at Acrisure Arena, Southern California’s most anticipated live entertainment and sports venue and future home of the Coachella Valley Firebirds. With more than 20 years of experience, Hill is responsible for establishing the financial infrastructure and compliance, developing budgets and monthly forecasts, assisting with projecting event deals, while overseeing the daily operations of all accounting and finance functions at Acrisure Arena.
Q: How did you get to where you are today?
RH: I have always worked hard to make myself valuable to the people I work with. Sometimes that value is easily measured because it’s visible on the financial statements in black and white. Other times that value shows up as the person who rolls up their sleeves and helps outside of their job description. I love working with people to solve problems. I’m also a big believer in continuous education. We live in a changing world so adapting, learning, and growing are critical to success.
Q: What’s one way you’ve broken the rules and challenged the norm in your career?
RH: My work can be serious and sometimes intense. I never want to forget about the human element, so I try to bring in a little fun…even in the world of accounting and finance.
Q: Have you ever been in a situation in which you’ve been unfairly characterized in the workplace, due to conscious or unconscious bias? How should women address these micro-aggressions and slights when they occur?
RH: Unfortunately, I have faced gender bias. However, the world has changed in a way where we don’t have to endure this in silence anymore. Saying words as simple as “this makes me uncomfortable” has power and can change the dynamic immediately.
Q: What can we start doing today to help close the wage gap between men and women?
RH: Progress is being made. Right now, the estimate is that women make 83 cents for every dollar earned by white men, up from 75 cents in 1996. I recently read an article that suggested one solution is posting pay ranges when advertising job descriptions. In addition to creating pay transparency during the hiring process, we can all be an ally to women. It starts with us. Be the person that gives a woman a boost up. Hiring women, guarantying equal pay for equal work, networking with women, and creating a safe environment for discussing pay equality are all crucial to moving the needle. Each generation has made the path a little better for the next. My hope is that my daughters will experience true wage equality in their lifetime.
Q: The past two years have proven to be challenging for our mental health. How have you prioritized your own mental health?
RH: Interaction with others is so important to me. I force myself to step out of my comfort zone and introduce myself or make the first phone call. Relationships require nurturing and effort. Even though it’s not my first nature to be outgoing, the payoff is worth the risk. My background is in accounting and finance but the best investment I’ve ever made is in people.
Q: What’s one effective way you’ve seen companies address the existing need for diversity-related initiatives?
RH: I am so impressed with the focus that Oak View Group (OVG) has on diversity and inclusion. It’s such a breath of fresh air to know that OVG prioritizes all its employees. It is hands-down the most inclusive company I’ve ever been fortunate enough to work for. We talk the talk and walk the walk here. The proof is visible right there in our offices. We are all different and that is our strength.
Q: What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
RH: I had a colleague who would speak about legacy. What will people remember about me? My amazing spreadsheets? No, it’s about relationships and how you treat people