Women in Banking

Virgin Money's dynamic duo and a new crypto collective

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Crypto collective: Cryptocurrency as a field needs more diversity, and a new organization called The Collective Future aims to help. It will host quarterly office hours for underrepresented entrepreneurs interested in creating crypto-focused startups. It also aims to create mentorship opportunities, and fund scholarships for them to attend conferences, among other things. The Collective Future got its start at a recent summit hosted by FuturePerfect Ventures’ Jalak Jobanputra. Attendees included JPMorgan Chase blockchain lead Amber Baldet, bitcoin lawyer Carol Van Cleef, venture investor Arianna Simpson, Digital Currency Group vice president Meltem Demirors, and startup entrepreneurs Leanne Kemp, Jutta Steiner, Preethi Kasireddy and Elizabeth Rossiello.

Social savvy: Bank of America’s Cathy Bessant, Citizens Bank of Edmond’s Jill Castilla and Centric Bank’s Patricia Husic are among a group of bankers who are comfortable using social media to share personal views. They sometimes even get political, tweeting about topics like women’s issues and gun control. Banks historically have avoided courting controversy, but the risk of speaking out could be worth taking, according to some. A bank talking about where it stands on issues can differentiate itself or show authenticity. “That can be actually helpful — a bit of a north star for" a banker's identity, said Kim Whitler, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

Big difference: Women in investment banking at Barclays PLC earn half as much as their male counterparts and receive bonuses that are 79% lower, according to data it disclosed to comply with a new U.K. law. The company’s other main unit, Barclays UK, reported a 26% gender pay gap, with overall bonuses for the women there being 60% lower than for the men. The differences reflect the concentration of men in highly paid roles. There is only one woman on Barclays’ nine-member group executive committee, Laura Padovani, who is the interim chief compliance officer.

It’s 1% for now: JPMorgan Chase revealed its “adjusted” gender pay gap in an internal memo Friday, saying that the difference between what male and female employees earn is 1% when factors like job role and seniority are taken into account. It also warned – without disclosing specifics – that the “unadjusted” numbers show a wider gap. Like Barclays, it will have to report those unadjusted numbers for its U.K. operations, to comply with the new law in that country.

One upside to a lot of regulation: The banking industry has room to improve on gender dynamics, but because banks are so highly regulated, there is a framework for employee behavior and reporting wrongdoings. As a result, sexual harassment is less of an issue than it might be for other industries, according to the chief executives at three banks in Cape Cod, Mass. “I’m not saying it doesn’t happen now. I’m just saying that there are, from my perspective, more controls in place for reporting and follow-up,” said Dorothy Savarese, of Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank. Her bank has a whistleblower hotline overseen by the audit committee, for example. Check out the full interview, in which Savarese, a repeat honoree in our Most Powerful Women rankings, sits down with Lori Meads, of Seamen’s Bank, and Lisa Oliver, of the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod, to discuss mentors, the #MeToo movement and the future of community banking. For the first time, all three of Cape Cod’s local banks are being led by a female CEO.

Overcoming apathy with awesome: Fintech companies have an opportunity to build products that sell themselves, according to Valarie Hamm Carlson, vice president of brand at Simple, the neobank that was acquired by BBVA Compass in 2016. “We were always building a process for customers that showed we never wanted to profit from their confusion,” Carlson said. The goal was an easy-to-use and fee-free experience, to contrast with traditional banks that, at the time of Simple’s 2011 launch, often had poor customer service and lots of gotcha fees. With the anti-bank sentiment sparked by the financial crisis starting to fade, “the biggest marketing challenge is overcoming people’s individual apathy and generating momentum to move,” Carlson said. “Our goal is to create something compelling that’s useful and hopefully people come over.”

Mildly hawkish: The White House is said to be considering Loretta Mester, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, for the role of vice chair at the central bank (though there’s no front-runner for the post currently). Mester is known for her “mildly hawkish" views on monetary policy, having argued for four interest-rate hikes last year when the Federal Open Market Committee raised rates three times.

Role call

Virgin Money has named former HSBC executive Irene Dorner as chairman, creating the only female chairman-CEO duo at one of Britain’s FTSE 350-listed companies. Virgin Money’s CEO, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, is the first female chief executive of a stock market-listed British bank and oversaw the creation of the country’s Women in Finance charter. Dorner had been CEO of HSBC USA before she retired.

USAA Labs has hired Scarlett Sieber as head of business development. She was previously chief innovation officer at the $7.9 billion-asset Opus Bank.

The Royal Mint in the U.K. has appointed Anne Jessopp as its new CEO and deputy master of the mint. She is the first female chief in its one thousand years of history.

Jenell Ross, president of Bob Ross Auto Group in Centerville, Ohio, has been named to the Cincinnati branch board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Beyond banking

Fire away: Google’s firing of James Damore, the author of a 10-page manifesto arguing that the gender imbalance in tech has a basis in biology, is legal, according to a lawyer with the National Labor Relations Board. “Employers must be permitted to ‘nip in the bud’ the kinds of employee conduct that could lead to a ‘hostile workplace,’” the decision read. Damore is still suing Google for discrimination against white men (lol).

Power and influence: A former literary and fiction editor for Esquire Magazine recounted some of her #MeToo work experiences in Vogue this week. She talked about being undermined by male writers, even though she was the one with the professional power over them. “Now, with hindsight, I’m dismayed that I lost so much time thinking about any of this,” said Miller, who got the job when she was 25 years old. “That’s the worst of it — the lost time, when all I’d wanted to do was work.” Miller also said she is cautiously optimistic that, in this post-Harvey Weinstein reckoning, things will change for women, for good. “We’re finally interrogating how men regard women, how masculine power is exercised, and the way it subjugates women. Women are declaring, ‘Enough,’ and it’s thrilling. … The power of our gatekeepers — inevitably male, inevitably white — will no longer go unexamined. This should have rousing consequences for art, for democracy, and for empowerment.”

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