A picture of the disruption to come

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The mainstream attention around women’s issues has exploded since we last ranked the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance, and the idea of women supporting women has taken on the force of a movement. It is not just about a single issue like sexual harassment. It is a bigger conversation about the power differentials everywhere — from the workplace to politics — and about what the longtime disparity in female representation has cost us.

This is the backdrop against which we decided to showcase women in the leadership pipeline as part of our Most Powerful Women coverage this year.

In planning the cover photo shoot, we set out to invite a group of women who are at the forefront of dealing with disruption in the industry. We asked each of them to invite an outstanding younger female executive at their company who they mentor — specifically someone who they could see on our list of the Most Powerful Women sometime in the future.

Ideally, we wanted the mentees to be involved in disruption in some way too and to represent the increased diversity of the younger workforce.

But we also see these emerging leaders as a disruption in and of themselves.

Many of the women in the rankings have lamented the exceedingly slow pace of progress toward gender equality in the senior ranks. They are working to change that, both on an individual level, by mentoring other women, and at a company level, by changing policies and launching initiatives to address some of the hurdles. But one look at the faces in the C-suite across the industry makes it plain that the return for all that effort — at least at the highest levels — is weak.

Some contend that the industry has even regressed lately, with men privately saying they are reluctant to mentor women lest they get accused of impropriety.

Even so the Most Powerful Women express great hope that the next generation of female leaders will end up changing those C-suite statistics in a much more substantial way.

So get ready to meet some of the rising stars who they believe are poised to disrupt the homogeneity — like MUFG's Enid Jean-Claude, KeyCorp's Jasmine Hosein and Bank of America's Anne Walker (who is the first visibly pregnant woman to be featured on the cover of the Most Powerful Women issue).

By giving our honorees the opportunity to call attention to other remarkable women in the industry, we aim to support them in their efforts to create momentum for changing the status quo.

If the industry has regressed, then we all have to do even more.

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