Most Powerful Women in Banking: No. 21, Citigroup's Yolande Piazza

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CEO, Citi FinTech, Citigroup

Yolande Piazza has an easy way to tell that efforts to improve gender promotions in her technology group are working — more than half of her team are women.

Since taking over as leader of Citi FinTech in 2016, Piazza has worked to boost the number of women who are promoted into leadership roles for her team.

Now, roughly three years later, women comprise 52% of the team at Citi FinTech, a startup-within-a-bank that serves as Citigroup’s innovation lab. The majority of Citi FinTech’s leaders are women, including its chief operating officer, chief financial officer, head of people and talent, and head of operational risk and control.

The success has come despite not having a formal procedure in place to boost the number of women, Piazza said. Instead, women have been drawn to Citi FinTech.

“It goes back to how we do recruiting to begin with,” Piazza said. “The minute you put the word ‘passion’ into a job description, it attracts a different type of person.”

Women are drawn to Citi FinTech because it offers a “creative space” for employees to perform their jobs, Piazza said.

“FinTech is very much a learning playground,” Piazza said. “It’s a lot of young people in an environment where they can try out other disciplines, to allow people to build their repertoire of skills.”

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She commends CEO Michael Corbat for raising the issue of gender imbalance at Citigroup. Earlier this year, Corbat described as “disappointing” and “ugly” the fact that median pay for women globally at Citi is 71% that of men, and median pay for U.S. minorities is 93% of the median for non-minorities.

Citi decided to be transparent about these statistics as it reaffirmed its goals to increase the number of women and minorities in leadership roles.

“This transparency makes me feel proud to work at Citi,” Piazza said. “The firm sent a clear message that we are willing to confront these challenges head on.”

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