#MeToo, Wall Street edition: Why hasn’t Wall Street had its #MeToo moment yet? Blame arbitration, Ana Duarte-McCarthy, who ran diversity efforts at Citigroup until 2016, told Bloomberg Businessweek. Financial services is more savvy than other industries about hiding employee disputes from the public. Wall Street may have been focused on anti-harassment training before other industries, but the arbitration system “creates the potential for a cloak of invisibility,” Duarte-McCarthy said. Some women also are successfully shushed because of the amount of money they stand to lose, according to Jennifer Hatch, who runs wealth manager Christopher Street Financial and started her career at JPMorgan Chase and Bear Stearns. “People spend their entire educational and professional career trying to get to this pot of gold, and some guy dropping his drawers is not going to get in the way of that,” she said. “Access to this pot of gold is based on, ultimately, the complete discretion of the men in this club.” (How arbitration hurts women is an issue we’ve covered here often.)
The nosiest banker ever: Meet Sundie Seefried, the president and chief executive of Partner Colorado Credit Union. She manages a large and expanding portfolio of marijuana industry clients that have had difficulty getting bank accounts. Her team delves deeply into nearly every aspect of their clients’ finances and operations. “I said it in every interview in the beginning,” Seefried said. “You have to understand: We’re going to be the nosiest banker you ever had.” She also has created a sophisticated process to match deposits and withdrawals to marijuana transactions, which are legal in Colorado, but still violate federal law. The process is designed to thwart any financial shenanigans – “because it’s not if there will be money laundering, it’s when,” she said. Seefried has no plans to abandon the marijuana industry, despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that the Department of Justice is rescinding the Obama-era Cole memo. That memo had given financial institutions some comfort that they would not face prosecution for handling savings and checking accounts that contain money from pot sales. Seefried, who puts her chances of prosecution at 20%, said she is willing to take the risk. The $352 million-asset Partner Colorado is even rolling out a program to help other credit unions start working with the marijuana industry.
Things that make you go hmmm: A sale of the embattled Weinstein Co. is said to be imminent, but the leading bid, from Maria Contreras-Sweet, the former head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, is raising eyebrows in Hollywood. One of her financial backers is billionaire Ron Burkle, reportedly a friend of Harvey Weinstein who remains in contact with him. "I find it profoundly disturbing, leaning toward sociopathy," actress Rose McGowan said of the possibility that someone with ties to the disgraced producer could have influence at the company after its sale. McGowan was one of the first women to publicly accuse Weinstein of rape.
Good work doesn’t speak for itself: There’s a tendency for women at work to overinvest in their performance and underinvest in their relationships – and that can really hurt women’s careers over time, said Morgan Stanley vice chairman Carla Harris. “Every company says that if you do really good work, if you keep your head down, then you will go right to the top. But nobody ever takes the time to explain the nuances of how that work gets viewed or graded.” At the office, some people are naturally more gregarious and often strike up informal conversations. This ends up being a significant differentiator when others review their work and consider their performance. “If it is not in your nature to connect, then you can let year after year go by without connecting,” Harris said, urging women to be intentional about interacting at the office. Relationships are necessary to be successful in any environment. Start building them now “so you have them before you need them," she said.
Bouncebacks: Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s how you bounce back from them that determines how colleagues judge you and ultimately dictates your career trajectory, KeyCorp’s Beth Mooney told Fortune this week. The first female CEO of a top 20 U.S. bank recalled one of her own mistakes in the video interview, saying it yielded the best career advice she’s ever received. “I had one that landed me in the president of the bank’s office and I’ll never forget: he looked at me and said, ‘What you do from here, now that this has happened, is how we’re all going to judge you. So I expect you to make it right but, more importantly, if you aspire to be a leader … don’t let this knock you down.” Watch the full interview here.
More drama at the CFPB
No, again: Federal Judge Timothy J. Kelly denied for a second time Leandra English’s attempt to become acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. On Wednesday, Kelly refused to grant a preliminary injunction against Mick Mulvaney’s appointment, saying English’s lawsuit was unlikely to succeed. English has argued that the CFPB is an independent agency and that the Dodd-Frank Act allowed former Director Richard Cordray to appoint her as his successor, overriding President Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney. But Kelly dismissed that argument, saying it is in conflict with the president’s obligations under the “Take Care Clause.” Kelly, a Trump appointee, is the same judge who previously rejected English’s request for an emergency injunction.
But it isn’t over yet: The legal effort to unseat Mick Mulvaney continues with oral arguments Friday in a separate case brought by a financial institution. The Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union is protesting what it calls President Trump’s “illegal takeover” of an agency meant to protect everyday Americans from deceptive and abusive practices. Linda Levy, the CEO of the $55 million-asset New York credit union, said any weakening of the CFPB would impact the low-income members her institution serves. In the short time that Mulvaney has been in control of the CFPB, he has moved aggressively to reshape the agency he once criticized as a “joke.” But if a federal court finds that Mulvaney's appointment was not lawful, it could undo his actions to date.
Political blowback: As Leandra English challenges Mick Mulvaney over his CFPB appointment, others are raising questions about how she got her own job at the agency. A GOP senator wants the Office of the Special Counsel to investigate how English was "hastily approved" for a permanent civil service job at the CFPB. English was named chief of staff to Richard Cordray in January 2017; she previously had been the principal deputy chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said English's conversion — a practice also known as "burrowing," in which a non-career political appointee converts to a career position outside of the competitive hiring process — was “based on information that included errors, potential conflicts of interest, and insufficient independent verification.”
SunTrust Banks has named railroad executive Ellen Fitzsimmons as its new general counsel. Fitzsimmons was previously general counsel for CSX. She succeeds Raymond Fortin, who is retiring after more than two decades in the post.
Eastern Bank in Boston has tapped Deborah Jackson, president of Cambridge College, to serve as lead independent director. She is the first woman to hold the position at Eastern.
Kirsten Sutton Mork, the staff director for the House Financial Services Committee, will become chief of staff at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Shannon McGahn, who has been a counselor for the past year to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, will succeed Mork as staff director for the committee.
In case you missed it
Wooing wealthy women: Last January UBS Wealth Management announced a five-year plan to significantly scale its effort to appeal to female clients. The program, called UBS Unique, officially launched in Hong Kong in November, after being introduced earlier in Singapore and Japan. In Asia, the number of female billionaires has grown by a factor of 8.3, jumping from a mere three in 2005 to 25 in 2014; the number also increased by a factor of 2.7 in Europe and 1.7 in the United States in that period. UBS Unique has established a dedicated advisory board to represent different interests and backgrounds. The board is meant to help the wealth management unit with plans like offering more investment opportunities around sustainability and diversity and continuing to create a diverse and inclusive workforce.
No respect: The lack of women economists has suddenly “jolted a profession that prides itself on cool rationality,” the New York Times reports from the American Economic Association’s annual convention in Philadelphia. One panel was “stocked with women, each of whom presented new research that revealed a systemic bias in economics and presaged a move by the field’s leaders to promise to address some of those issues. Paper after paper showed a pattern of gender discrimination, beginning with barriers women face in choosing to study economics and extending through the life cycle of their careers, including securing job opportunities, writing research papers, gaining access to top publications and earning proper credit for published work.”
What a city can do: Republican governors recently vetoed equal pay bills in New Jersey and Illinois and the Trump administration reversed a federal rule requiring employers to report wage data. But the city of Boston is still committed to equal pay initiatives. In 2015, it launched an effort to train women to be better salary negotiators, teaming up with the American Association of University Women, a national advocacy group, to offer free workshops on the topic. More than 6,000 women have completed the workshop so far, but the goal is to train 85,000 — half the working women in Boston — by 2021. Collecting data is another element of Boston’s commitment to equalizing pay. It has employers anonymously submit their payroll data to the city — the second report, due out this month, shows Boston’s women earn 76 cents for every dollar men earn. Boston officials say their new statistics are more accurate than federal statistics, which are collected from workers. Catch the entire PBS segment on Boston and the state of Massachusetts’ efforts to close the gender wage gap here.
Weekend funnies: “Jessica begins speaking, and no one speaks over her. She didn’t actually have an ending to her presentation prepared, because she expected to be interrupted. She is mortified.” Be sure to check out the rest of the New Yorker’s compilation of examples of toxic femininity in the workplace.
Bonnie McGeer and George Yacik contributed to this report.