The survey you’ve been waiting for: When Geena Davis spoke at our awards dinner for the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance, she asked if you’d help with a survey we were planning to do. That survey is ready, and we hope those of you who work in the financial services industry, men and women, will take eight minutes to answer some questions and help make this research project a success. Your answers are completely confidential, and participants will be entered into a drawing for a $500 Visa gift card and two free passes to an upcoming American Banker conference. Click here to start the survey.
Culture change challenges: Citi’s Carey Kolaja and Wells Fargo’s Sherrie Littlejohn talked about the difficulty of pushing back against “we can’t do that” attitudes during CB Insights’ Future of Fintech conference in New York on Wednesday. The process requires determining if the resistance is a matter of opinion or because of actual regulations. At Citi, Kolaja’s job has gotten harder in some ways since her unit, Citi FinTech, launched in 2015. “The second year is harder than the first because now you have senior executives running in and saying ‘We can do that, too, we want to be part of’” the innovation, said Kolaja, global chief product officer at Citi FinTech. At Wells, heads of business lines became more open to change and more willing to take a broader view of client relationships after the bank’s phony-account scandal surfaced last October, said Littlejohn, executive vice president of the innovation group.
Baby steps: Future Family is trying to ease the burden of paying for expensive fertility treatments. Freezing eggs can cost a woman upwards of $10,000 and a single cycle of in-vitro fertilization can cost about $20,000. But the San Francisco startup wants to distinguish itself by providing additional services beyond just financing. “The next gen will say, ‘Nope, capital is a commodity. It’s not enough. If you want to provide financial services, I want more,’” said Claire Tomkins, co-founder and chief executive, who has gone through six IVF cycles herself. If a woman decides to move forward with a treatment, Future Family will provide financing options through a subscription model that includes services like an online nurse concierge and appointment scheduling.
Behind the global curve: In refusing to respond to investor concerns about the gender pay gap, top U.S. banks and credit card companies stand in sharp contrast with U.K. banks, Natasha Lamb, managing director of Arjuna Capital, wrote in an op-ed. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and American Express have rejected calls to disclose their wage data. Other banks, like Goldman Sachs and BNY Mellon, have pledged to take proactive steps, but this appears to be “nothing short of lip service,” Lamb said. In contrast, U.K. companies, including HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group and Lloyd’s of London, among others, signed a landmark pledge to tackle the pay gap issue. The first step is disclosing their wage data; by next April, all large U.K. companies will be required to publish theirs. “Change is simply a matter of time,” Lamb said. It “must overcome a business culture entrenched in an antiquated value system.”
Calling all male allies: It’s still a man’s world and equality will never be achieved if the men don't get involved, according to Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund. “Men have to endorse the project as much as women,” she said, at the Cannes Lions advertising and film festival. “We found 140 countries had in their constitution discrimination against women. It all starts with the basic legal framework.” Lagarde recounted times during her career when male colleagues had to explain at client meetings that she wasn’t there to fetch coffee. She also noted that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was perceived to be taking a risk by naming Lagarde as his minister of agriculture and fisheries.
No small feat: Yuvonne Watt just celebrated 50 years of working at First National Bank in Vinita, Okla., where longevity is common for female employees. First National has 12 female employees who have worked there for more than 20 years and five for more than 40 years. Watt, who mentors other women on staff, started out in the bookkeeping department and now serves as chief operating officer. She’s also the first woman to serve on its board. “The one thing I have learned from her is that if you take care of the small stuff, then the big stuff takes care of itself,” Julie Dean, a senior vice president of operations and marketing, who has been with the bank for 27 years, said of Watts.
Potomac Bancshares in Charles Town, W.Va., has named Alice Frazier as its next chief executive. She was previously chief financial officer of Cardinal Financial in McLean, Va.
LendUp, a company that bills itself as a payday loan alternative, has added Carrie Dolan to its board. Dolan is CFO of Metromile, which offers car insurance to low-mileage drivers, and was formerly CFO at LendingClub.
Banco Santander is bringing in an American to lead its digital and innovation office in Madrid. The Spanish banking giant hired Lindsey Argalas as its chief digital and innovation officer, and she is expected to start Sept. 1, pending regulatory approval. Argalas is a senior vice president at Intuit, where she also serves as chief of staff to CEO Brad Smith.
In case you missed it
Choose your words carefully: The words used in advertisements for jobs in financial services could be a factor in why fewer women apply. Companies frequently use “masculine words,” such as dominant, superior and aggressive, in their employment postings, according to research by the Financial News. Women shy away from applying for these jobs because they assume they won’t fit into a company that values male traits, said Tanja Hentschel, a researcher at the school of management at the Technical University of Munich. Job listings for financial services have a masculine tone 40% of the time, putting it in the top fifth for all industries. Roughly a third of postings across all industries had a masculine bias.
Newsroom diversity: Unconscious bias at the Wall Street Journal is “festering,” according to one nonwhite male staffer, and “people are scared,” said a female reporter. Earlier this month six female WSJ reporters emailed editor-in-chief Gerard Baker on behalf of 200 staffers to express their growing frustration with the organization’s lack of diversity. “Until our leadership reflects a more diverse population ― the population we are trying to attract as new subscribers ― we may not be producing the best journalism possible,” it said. In the email, the reporters cited two recent stories that missed the mark precisely because of a lack of diversity. Days after the email was sent, the WSJ reporters’ union issued a detailed report on pay at the paper, which finds female reporters earn an average of 91 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. When taking all the women in the union into account ― non-managerial staff in sales, tech and other areas — they make 87% of what men earn.
Jackie Stewart and Bonnie McGeer contributed to this report.
Find out how to get a digital or print copy of the monthly American Banker Magazine here. The annual rankings of the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance will be in the October issue of the magazine.