Support for Women in Finance

By  0 Comments

American Banker publishes an annual list of 25 of the Most Powerful Women in Finance. They also publish the Most Powerful Women in Banking list and yet another called The Women to Watch. Women from the 2019 finance  list include Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of the JPMorgan Asset and Wealth Management division, Abigail Johnson, Chairman and CEO of Fidelity Investments, and Margaret Keane, CEO of Synchrony Financial.

All of these women made it to the top of a challenging industry, to say the least. Kudos to them and the other 22 on the list.

Women have been struggling to break the glass ceiling in the workforce since they won the right to vote 100 years ago. Even with legal wage and discrimination measures in place, few women have made it to the top echelon of financial companies. Could this be changing since Mary, Abigail and Margaret have done it?

According to Catalyst, the global nonprofit that works to accelerate women into leadership, the current consciousness has been raised since the #MeToo movement. Lorraine Hariton, the CEO of Catalyst, said, “Companies are starting to understand that to be competitive, to be innovative, to attract the best talent, they’ve got to have inclusive culture set up so everyone can reach their full potential.”

One company that adopted this mantra is Prudential Financial, whose Chairman and CEO, John Strangfeld, considers diversity an essential component of the company’s culture. He understands this philosophy starts at the top because if the top leadership of a company isn’t totally on board with inclusion, it will falter. Prudential’s board is two-thirds diverse, and that is deliberate. They see that in order to meet the needs of a diverse customer base, it is imperative to employ a variety of talent and experience in the boardroom as a competitive advantage, leading to better decisions and stronger performance.

American Express launched the Ambition Project to document women’s experiences with ambition by hosting candid conversations in their workplace. This focused attention to women has had critical impact on the dynamics of their workforce. More women joined the executive committee and more than 100 women have been promoted or joined the company at the executive level. Now, two-thirds of the women at American Express publicly describe themselves as ambitious, which in turn leads to successful careers and increased confidence. The company has a more robust culture of diversity as a result.

This type of mindset has paid off for many companies in the financial industry.

Mary Callahan Erdoes, the JPMorgan honoree, knows full well that all workforces are not created equal, but her company is changing the paradigm for women. JPMorgan was ranked as one of the best companies for women in finance in 2018 and is committed to advancing gender equality. Jamie Dimon, its chairman and CEO, explains, “Equality at the workplace is not just good for women, it’s good for business.” Women make up half of the company’s global workforce, and they are represented at every level of the organization.

Deloitte, the global audit, tax and consulting firm, has publicly recognized the value of women’s leadership and has implemented initiatives for mentorship throughout the company. In particular, they created a Women’s Leadership Launch, an event that encourages graduate students to reap the benefits of mentorship through a three-day conference at Deloitte University.

Allianz, another global company specializing in financial services, has mentorship programs and a sponsorship initiative that engages senior-level managers in nurturing female talent. At Bank of America, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, a high percentage of promotions for manager level and above are given to women.

Capital One has diversity councils that track the progress of female employees, pairing them with sponsors who advocate for their success. Deutsche Bank operates the Women on Wall Street mentorship group. And at Goldman Sachs, the commercial banking giant, they have the 10,000 Women Initiative launched by the Goldman Sachs Foundation to provide high-potential women entrepreneurs in 43 countries with business and management education, mentoring and networking.

At KPMG audit and tax advisors, the women’s advisory board enhances career opportunities for women by driving initiatives that support, retain and reward them. Mass Mutual Financial Group’s Mutual Life Insurance uses a diversity scorecard to actively track the hiring and progress of women throughout its business lines. FINRA financial services has a women’s network to help women advance and develop skills for thriving at work and home.

Companies are getting on board and it’s clearly trending favorably for women in the workplace after years of effort with little return. One thing is certain with each of these companies: the decision came from the top. And now that the 25 honorees of American Banker’s annual list have reached the top, it’s their turn at bat for women’s advancement. ■

Sources:, and