The elusive keys to the kingdom: Why do so few women become CEOs? The New York Times interviewed several women who were once in the running to become number one in their organizations but never made it beyond number two. The women said they encountered more overt and subtle resistance as they get closer to the top. For Dina Dublon, a former chief financial officer of JPMorgan Chase who retired in 2004, the challenge for women is how to enter into the circle of male camaraderie. She said some male colleagues were reluctant to have dinner or drinks with female subordinates – they feared they would seem flirtatious. But social events like dinner and drinks are important bonding activities in the corporate world. “Once you get to the top of the company, in most cases, you are dealing with a male kingdom,” Dublon said. “For as long as we are the minority group, it is much more about our capacity to adjust to them than their capacity to open up to us. I don’t think it’s about fairness. It is narrow-minded and ineffective, but human.”

Uber interesting: Uber is reportedly considering hiring Bank of America vice chairman Anne Finucane to help it move past the reputational damage it suffered under ousted co-founder Travis Kalanick. Neither B of A nor Uber have commented on the rumor. Uber is considering hiring a female CEO to help it move past its recent sexual discrimination and harassment allegations. Finucane would offer an intriguing skill set. She’s in charge of positioning B of A for future success, including outreach to millennials; she also directs company interactions with U.S. and global organizations like the White House and the World Economic Forum, oversees its environmental, social and governance efforts and is the chair of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

Anne Finucane, a top executive at Bank of America
Anne Finucane, a top executive at Bank of America

Join the ‘no’ vote: State Street’s head of corporate governance, Rakhi Kumar, said corporate governance “has grown up.” “Ten years ago, companies were not in the mode of being told by investors what to do. They were more in the mode of doing it, and then telling you what they did,” she said. “I felt that the risks in investments from [ethical, social and governance factors] were not really appreciated and understood, and thought every investor should understand these risks and that this area would grow. Now I get yelled at less by directors than in the past [when we give] an alternative viewpoint. And companies realize index managers are taking a more active role [in monitoring governance standards].” Kumar also addressed the issue of large companies that have no female directors. Since the installation of the Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street, which is meant to encourage companies to improve gender balance in their boardrooms, State Street has written to 240 such companies. Many have yet to respond, but 24 have agreed to appoint a “more diverse candidate” by 2018, Kumar said. “We will keep voting against those that don’t [improve], and we hope other investors will join us.”

When one is better than two: Days after the decision to integrate Nasdaq’s Treasury trading business with the rest of its electronic trading operations, CEO Adena Friedman spoke candidly about her efforts to shore up the exchange’s ailing fixed income business. “There is no magic bullet that is going to completely change the trajectory of that business,” but the integration of the group with other units should help, she said. “Our clients are looking holistically across asset classes. To have one organization and one infrastructure versus two makes more sense.”

Guilty: A former Credit Suisse banker from Switzerland, Susanne Ruegg Meier, pleaded guilty to participating in a tax evasion scheme that helped Americans hide millions of dollars in offshore accounts. The plea came six years after Meier’s indictment in a case that was part of a broad U.S. crackdown on offshore tax evasion. She faces up to five years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept 8.

Change is gonna come: Rania Nashar’s ascension to CEO of Saudi commercial bank Samba Financial Group was a 20-year journey that mirrored the bank’s overall evolution. When she joined in 1997, Samba was a Citibank affiliate with Wall Street-style culture and a largely brick-and-mortar business model. “The consumers were more focused on the classic banking where they come in and have to meet someone with a suit at a brown desk — this classic conventional banking,” Nashar said. Increasing responsibilities and managerial roles — alongside an economy going through reforms and low oil prices — set her on track for a senior position in the company. The idea that she’d be considered for the role of CEO took her by surprise, she said. “All over the world, you don’t see the inclusion of females on the boards or the senior positions across the financial sector,” she said. “Change is happening, but it’s not at the pace that works with the ambitions of [Saudi] women. Currently there are a lot of wonderful females in Saudi. They are talented, well educated, hard workers. They just want the opportunity to prove themselves.”

Role call

Wells Fargo has hired Becky Gibson to lead its Iowa middle market banking team as regional vice president and Susan Pound to lead its sales teams throughout the South, including 12 states that stretch from Florida to Texas.

Beyond banking

She’s got stamina: German Chancellor Angela Merkel revealed to a Vogue reporter the one thing that’s gotten her this far in her career. “‘Madam Chancellor,’ I say. ‘Can you share the secret of your success in the male world of German politics?’ The chancellor’s features soften momentarily as she considers this unexpected question. As her aides close in, she finally answers, ‘Endurance!’”

The unhelpful hero: Awareness of sexism at work is often relegated to “hostile sexism,” an antagonistic attitude toward women and desire to control or dominate them. What’s much more subtly and equally damaging is “benevolent sexism,” a chivalrous attitude that suggests women are weak and need men’s protection. According to psychologists Peter Glick and Susan Fiske, men who endorse this form of paternalism are more likely to accept the mistreatment and harassment of women at work. Compliments and unsolicited assistance could undercut a woman’s confidence and perceptions of her competence and make it harder for her to advance.

Ancient, hairy matriarchs: The study of chimpanzees has contributed to a lot of humans’ understanding of their evolutionary roots — patriarchal, hunting, meat eating, male bonding, and showing male aggression towards females. But a handful of researchers have studied a type of chimpanzee called bonobos that show matriarchal tendencies. The researchers have come to the conclusion that patriarchy isn't as natural as we thought. “It seemed like patriarchy was cemented in our evolutionary heritage for the last five to six million years,” said researcher Amy Parish. The new research “opens up the possibilities for imagining that in our ancestry that females could bond in the absence of kinship, that matriarchies can exist, that females can have the upper hand, that societies can be more peacefully run. … For me as a feminist it’s really interesting. Because the goal of the feminist movement is to behave with other females as though they are your sisters.”

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