#ShePersisted: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was formally silenced by her Republican colleagues on Tuesday when she attempted to read a 30-year-old letter from Coretta Scott King on the Senate floor during a debate about the nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell later said, unintentionally making Warren a hero in social media and giving her a far greater platform to convey her message. His words helped fuel Internet outrage over the shushing, as women turned #ShePersisted into a feminist rallying cry. Some are even calling for Warren to run for president. “Look, the main thing is that millions of people are now reading Coretta Scott King’s letter,” Warren told The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah Wednesday night. It’s worth noting that the incident also riled civil rights leaders, though King’s niece contends Coretta — who wrote the letter to argue against Sessions’ getting appointed as a federal judge in 1986 — would feel differently about him today.
Women in ETFs: The surging exchange-traded funds business is leading the financial industry’s gender equality movement by example. A group called Women in ETFs now boasts more than 2,000 members, three years after it was launched by five female executives. At Bats Global Markets, women make up half of the team that works to get funds listed on its exchanges around the world, according to Laura Morrison, the head of exchange-traded products. At iShares, seven out of its 14-member global executive committee are women. Meanwhile, women represent only about 20 percent of senior vice presidents and vice presidents in asset management and institutional investment.
Millennial myth-busting: TD Bank’s Colleen Johnston wants to dispel the millennial myth that this demographic is as a group “entitled,” “sheltered” and “narcissistic.” Johnston, the group head of direct channels, technology, marketing, and corporate and public affairs for TD, says her own impressions of millennials don’t jibe with the stereotype. She is especially impressed with their financial savviness. “Despite their relative youth, millennials tend to be more conservative than their Gen X and baby boomer counterparts when it comes to money management,” she says. “They are more likely to save and invest a greater percentage of their income and to have a budgeting plan in place. And, not surprisingly, they put a premium on being financially secure.”
I did it, and so can you: In this Q&A, Nasdaq’s Adena Friedman talks about her experiences over the last two decades with the fintech revolution, the pros and cons of Dodd-Frank, the challenges of being a CEO and how her all-girls’ education helped her rise through the ranks of a male-dominated industry. The first female exchange boss also says she wants to do her part to make sure women realize anything is possible. “In financial services, there’s nothing that limits you from reaching the top of an organization. And at the end of the day, it’s all about the contribution you make to the company that’s most important.”
Delay details: When Customers Bancorp in Wyomissing, Pa., postposed the relaunch of its BankMobile app, some analysts worried that a plan to sell the millennial-focused, digital-only unit also would be delayed. But Luvleen Sidhu, BankMobile’s president, says there is nothing to worry about. She attributes the delay to an issue with a third-party vendor.
PNC Financial Services Group has appointed its chief technology officer, Deborah Guild, to the newly created role of chief security officer.
Jessica Rich, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer protection bureau, is stepping down in mid-February. She joined the commission in 1991.
In case you missed it
Hand up: Bessemer Trust’s chief investment officer, Rebecca Patterson, recently offered some advice for women on Wall Street. One takeaway: raise your hand. “I do think, still today, men are more comfortable speaking up, making a point, and throwing out a proactive suggestion,” she said. “Women, broadly speaking, tend to try to build consensus or phrase things as a question. You have to take a stand, and you have to stick your neck out.” Patterson was named one of our 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Testosterone territory: Here are two more recent studies on board diversity for those keeping track of the progress, or lack thereof, as the case may be. One shows that fintech companies have fewer women on their boards than banking institutions. According to the headhunting firm DHR International, women make up 8% of directors at fintech companies globally versus 22% at the world’s 30 largest banks. Another shows women and minorities hold 31% of the board seats at Fortune 500 companies, which is the highest level in six years, but still only an incremental improvement. “With the current rate of progress, we aren’t likely to see the number of minorities and women increase to our target of 40 percent representation until the year 2026,” said Ronald C. Parker, the chairman of the Alliance for Board Diversity.
The flexibility stigma: One solution to the gender pay gap being proposed lately is: let women decide when they work. Women tend to suffer pay or promotion penalties when they ask for some flexibility at work, and as a result they often stay quiet about their needs, even when company policy is accommodating. A new job search company called Werk is trying to address the problem by negotiating flexibility with employers before they post jobs, so employees don’t have to. “Nobody wants to be the female in the department who says, ‘My kid threw up on me this morning; I can’t come in,’” said Annie Dean, who worked as a lawyer before starting Werk with Anna Auerbach, a former consultant. “Eighty percent of companies say they offer flexibility, but it’s a black market topic. You raise it and you’re not taken seriously.”
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