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Women in Banking: Bro Talk Must Go; Wells Fargo's Tolstedt to Retire

War of words: Bro talk hasn't gotten nearly enough attention as one of the reasons that female leaders are lacking in the financial services industry, writes Sam Polk, a former hedge fund trader, in a New York Times op-ed. Most of the sexism in the workplace happens when women aren't in the room, and it often comes from bosses in a form of male bonding that is not only culturally accepted, but in fact expected - "bro talk." The way women are "casually torn apart in conversation" creates "a force field of disrespect and exclusion" that makes it hard for them to advance, argues Polk, who used to work for Bank of America. Little has changed over the years, despite formal company initiatives like women's leadership summits. What's needed, he says, is much simpler: men speaking up and challenging the norms in everyday situations, no matter how uncomfortable it is to do so. Polk makes an eloquent case that is really worth reading.

Bro's Club? What Bro's Club?: Bank of America has responded to a gender-bias suit filed by managing director Megan Messina, who claims her male supervisor made it clear she wasn't welcome in his bro's club and consistently excluded her from e-mails and meetings with the 10 men he oversaw. B of A said that no bro's club exists and that this inflammatory term was never used by Messina's supervisor or other managers.

Come Back: Barclays is offering a paid internship for once-high-performing midcareer bankers who left the industry for whatever reason, but want to return. The program helps participants brush up on their skills and re-establish their networks. Barbara Byrne, vice chairman of investment banking, says the program helps solve one of the industry's biggest problems: how to recruit the best bankers — particularly women — for an executive career track. "If you come here and you join with us after taking some time off, you're going to stay," says Byrne, who is in our "Most Powerful Women" ranking. "We want people who you can invest in and stay with us, who form relationships."

Naming and Shaming: As of this week, 72 firms have signed the U.K.'s Women in Finance Charter, an initiative to increase the number of women executives in the finance sector. Those participating include Barclays, Mastercard, Morgan Stanleyl, Deutsche and Credit Suisse. These banks have agreed to make one senior executive accountable for diversity, set targets for gender diversity and link senior executive pay to the firm's success in reaching targets. The charter, which is being spearheaded by the country's treasury, is in response to Virgin Money CEO Jayne-Anne Gadhia's report detailing the lack of gender diversity in the sector. Some are unconvinced of its potential to bring change. "League tables should not be used to name and shame firms, as data will only be able to present a partial picture," Carolyn Fairbairn, the director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said in February.

Birds of a Feather: Mission-driven banks like Beneficial State Bank are on the hunt for acquisitions but are also considering other ways to grow, such as doing loan participations or sharing back-office technology. A deal to buy ShoreBank in 2010 taught Beneficial State co-CEO Kat Taylor the importance of fostering the right type of culture and making mergers more like partnerships. "Culture, like mushrooms, grows whether you intend it to or not," she says.

Hometown Heart: Stop with the mass marketing, advises one Cincinnati bank. Small banks are trying to figure out how to go digital while keeping the hometown identity that sets them apart them from larger rivals. "Marketing to broad groups, like saying you're marketing to millennials, doesn't work anymore," says Anna Weston, vice president of marketing for First Financial Bank. "Micro-targeting has allowed us to deliver different messages with a specific call to action for many different groups." The bank says it has sold 2,000 new products in the last year since adopting this strategy.

A Rant About Women in Banking: The term "women in banking" both annoys and delights Ghela Boskovich. "I'm angry that we still have to talk about the special case of Women in Banking, like being a woman is an oddity, an exception to the rule, an outsider, a special class of human. Like we're a freak in a side show at the Money Circus," Boskovich, director of global strategic business development at Zafin and one of the organizers behind the FemTech Leaders network, writes on LinkedIn. But one upside is that women have come together to support one another, she says. "I am happy there is an international community that fosters inclusion, that extends an invitation to join in, to find friendship, to find succor and support, to find encouragement and inspiration, to find collaboration and creation."

Role Call

Mary Mack is replacing Carrie Tolstedt as head of Wells Fargo's 94,000-employee community banking unit, effective July 31. Tolstedt is retiring at the end of the year after 27 years with the San Francisco company. She has been part of American Banker's Most Powerful Women in Banking rankings since 2003, and ranked No. 4 in 2015. Mack has been listed among the Most Powerful Women in Financefor the past two years, moving up to No. 7 last year from No. 24. A search for Mack's replacement at Wells Fargo Advisors is underway.

Blythe Masters has resigned as chairman of Santander Consumer USA Holdings to advise its Spanish parent company, Banco Santander, on the blockchain. Masters also intends to join the Banco Santander's International Advisory Board and the board of its online-only bank, Openbank.

Beyond Banking

Women as World Leaders: Theresa May has been named Britain's new prime minister - the country's second woman in the job after Margaret Thatcher. She has already overhauled the cabinet, with women filling some of the top roles. Given that Germany has Chancellor Angela Merkel, there's now a chance of seeing women run the western world, if Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presumptive nominee, wins in November. It's a sight to behold, but there's no indication that such influential female leadership will help advance women in their careers, says this Forbes writer.

Absurd and Disturbing: Have you read actress Jennifer Aniston's op-ed on the objectification of women? I'll just end with this right here: "The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. ... Sometimes cultural standards just need a different perspective so we can see them for what they really are — a collective acceptance ... a subconscious agreement. We are in charge of our agreement. Little girls everywhere are absorbing our agreement, passive or otherwise. And it begins early."

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