Broyles Empowers Women in Male-Dominated Field
by Maria Mallory White (FSTimes, February/March 2009)
After graduating from Florida State in 1972 with a degree in fashion merchandising, Edna Broyles spent some time in that industry and then decided to make a change. With her business classes from Florida State and having worked for two large corporations, Broyles considered new opportunities, opting to sell financial securities and insurance and enter Dean Witter’s prestigious training program.
“They spent upwards of $50,000 to train you in the securities industry at that time,” she said. Taking time off only for a Florida State Football weekend, Broyles plunged into the grueling process of studying for the licensing exams.
“You had 30 books, and you just had to really memorize all that information if you were going to be involved in securities and insurance industries,” said Broyles, who spent four weeks in training at one of the World Trade Center buildings in New York City.
For Broyles, it was money well spent. She earned not only a license to sell securities and insurance, but she later added Certified Financial Planner to her credentials and, beginning in 1982, she started working her way through the male-dominated industry, building a career at big-name Wall Street firms.
Broyles made her way to the position of No. 2 producer in the Shearson Lehman Brothers Tampa office (which later merged with Smith Barney). But there was another aspect to the financial securities industry Broyles had not anticipated.
“I saw and experienced discrimination in the workplace and reported it in writing,” she said. “(Afterward,) I was retaliated against and eventually fired. I thought it was a local, Tampa, Fla., problem until I started working with attorneys, and then a BusinessWeek article reported ‘Smith Barney’s Women Problem.’”
“We had just what I thought was really a bad apple in our office,” Broyles said, “and I had no way of knowing at the time that it was coming from the top down.”
Broyles was one of 25 class-action representatives to help 23,000 women nationwide sue the New York Stock Exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers, Smith Barney and others. The case was settled in 1998, but Broyles’ efforts are far from over. She continues to work to empower women, which, she says, also helps men and children so everyone benefits.
In 2009, Broyles was nominated for The Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2009 BusinessWoman of the Year. Edna was selected as one of 53 finalists overall and as one of six nominees in the Financial Services category. On Friday, August 21, Edna was joined by more than 500 professionals and colleagues at the annual Tampa Bay Business Journal BusinessWoman of the Year black-tie gala. Broyles represented UBS Financial Services, Inc. with her nomination. The Women for Florida State University is proud to have such an accomplished and influential businesswoman as one of its founding members.