Looking beyond numbers: Goldman Sachs still has some work to do on gender equality: just 21% of senior positions are held by women (below the industry average of 24%). But Heather Mulahasani, who joined as an analyst in 2000 and was made a partner in 2016 — the year Goldman promoted its highest proportion and greatest number of female partners — says there’s a “growing and strong awareness” of the gender inequality problem at the company. Sally Boyle, Goldman’s international head of human capital management, says there are efforts to promote women in revenue-generating divisions and not just departments like HR and legal (which have greater flexibility on work hours), so as not to create the impression that women thrive only by escaping mainstream business pressures. But Goldman does not set targets for women in senior positions. “The worst thing you can do for women is to promote them too early,” said Nishi Somaiya, head of private capital at Goldman, who also became partner in 2016. “If the firm was focused on the numbers game, women could be promoted too early. If you put women in too early, they will fail.”

Banking American dreamers: Banking is a people business. Alice Milligan, chief customer and digital experience officer for Citigroup's global cards unit and a finalist for American Banker’s Digital Banker of the Year, says her business is "rooted in the foundation of the American dream.” "When we give you money for a mortgage, when you qualify for a credit card, the reason you do those things is to accomplish your dreams: to buy the house you want, to get your family that TV for the Super Bowl party," she said. Since she joined Citi in 2014, Milligan has lifted customer satisfaction and saved the bank money — after first convincing senior executives that customer satisfaction was worth spending money on — by driving customers away from call centers and toward the mobile app. Today, 85% of services are available on the mobile app, and Milligan is shooting for 100% by the end of this year. "For a while we looked at mobile as a companion to our website, and we've completely flipped that,” she said.

Alice Milligan, chief customer and digital experience officer for Citigroup's global cards unit.
Alice Milligan, chief customer and digital experience officer for Citigroup's global cards unit.

Robo ready: TIAA has launched an online robo-adviser to win more customers. "It's a natural next step in our journey to support the financial well-being of many more people," said Kathie Andrade, head of TIAA's retail financial services business and one of American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Finance. "When you think about the divergence that's occurring between digital delivery and people delivery, I don't think we know exactly what that convergence is going to be,” Andrade said. “What we do know is that there is a huge need for in-person or people to deliver advice for those that have more complex needs.” TIAA’s robo-adviser offers passive index and exchange-traded funds that track markets, in addition to active ones that seek to outperform benchmarks.

Leaning out: Corporate America will never “get” gender diversity because too often people talk about it as a macro issue — something for corporations, industries and society at large to tackle — and tend to overlook the important micro issues, says Sallie Krawcheck, the chief executive of digital investment platform Ellevest and former Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Smith Barney executive. One such issue is bad bosses, who don't have to be awful people to be bad for their employees’ careers. “It can even be something as simple as a male manager with a stay-at-home wife. Research shows that those gentlemen tend to view women in the workplace less favorably and are less likely to promote them,” Krawcheck said. “I've had bosses who supported and promoted me, and I’ve had bosses who have fired or re-org’ed me out. Yet I’ve been the same person the whole time — and, I have to note, my business results were actually better under the bosses who ousted me.” Another issue is the reality that “even the most well-meaning and diversity-positive individuals are, let’s face it, implicitly drawn to working with people like themselves … we understand them better.”

Defending the Fearless Girl: State Street’s head of PR, Anne McNally, joined the bank in late 2011 as its reputation was still suffering from the fallout of the Great Recession. Bad press prompted a host of reforms for the bank’s communications strategy driven by the public’s fear and anger. "When I joined, the firm’s PR was more reactive and its proactive muscles weren’t as developed," McNally said. "Since then, we’ve grown that proactive approach to PR. You earn the right to grow.” In this interview she addresses criticisms of the Fearless Girl (for example, that it’s a publicity stunt plugging SHE, a State Street exchange-traded fund that invests only in companies committed to gender diversity; or that State Street’s 11-person board of directors has just three women so the company doesn’t qualify for its own investment product). ”We are not saying we’re a shining example. This is about what we can do to impact change. We shouldn’t let striving for perfection and equality be the enemy of doing good now,” McNally said. And even though there was admittedly a product tie-in, "creating dialogue, even controversial dialogue, is how things get changed.”

Family time: TD Bank is expanding its parental leave benefits with a new policy that offers 16 weeks of paid leave to all new parents – including mothers, fathers, same-sex parents and adoptive parents. The more generous policy comes on the heels of a study the company conducted on the influence parental leave benefits have on millennials' career decisions. "All parents should have the opportunity to welcome their new children home, without worrying about work or paychecks, which is why our new parental leave policy is so important to our employees," said Beth Webster, head of human resources at TD Bank. The study shows 62% of Americans (and 85% of millennials) see parental leave policy as an important consideration when choosing an employer; more than a third of Americans (and half of millennials) believe these policies should evolve to be inclusive of modern families; and 78% said not offering parental leave would impact the amount of time they take off. Another 78% would take additional unpaid time if money were not a factor.

Role call

Bank of New York Mellon has appointed former Bank of America executive Bridget Engle to be its chief information officer. Engle was most recently CIO of Bank of America’s Global Banking and Markets businesses.

Citi has promoted Stella Choe to head of corporate banking for Australia and New Zealand. She joined Citi in 2014 as managing director and head of corporate banking for financial institutions.

Beyond banking

Hiring and firing spree: This week Uber fired more than 20 people after a company-wide investigation into harassment claims. It also hired two high-profile women — Apple’s Bozoma Saint John as chief brand officer, and Harvard Business School Professor Frances Frei, who will serve as senior vice present for leadership and strategy — to set strategy and rethink branding. The new hires come as Uber searches for a chief operating officer. Its heads of finance, growth, engineering, and policy and communications have all left the company in the past few months.

Sculptures in herstory: Indian author Nilanjana Roy says when she first saw the Fearless Girl, “she didn’t much like it … the 50-inch girl’s ‘fearless’ pose — hands on hips, head proudly raised — felt just a little too staged,” she said. But since she arrived, it’s become clear to Roy that there’s a gender gap in sculpture that persists, both in India and the U.S. “Public spaces are less than welcoming to women … ‘Fearless Girl’ is a small but defiant reminder that women still have to “invade” spaces where they should, by rights, belong,” she says. Modern India’s statues are overwhelmingly tall, massive portrayals of male politicians, or male figures drawn from legend, she says. In the U.S., fewer than 8% of the 5,193 outdoor public sculptures of individuals are of females. “This goes beyond political correctness: what children and teenagers see of the world shapes their view of it, their sense of the place they should occupy,” says Roy. “It’s not enough to have women’s images reflected only in billboards and advertisements — they must also be part of historical memory.”

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