A Dissenting Voice: Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank president Esther George is best known for her dissenting votes on monetary policy, but that's not the only way she stands out. Her background as a farmer and former bank examiner gives her a unique perspective among Fed officials. "I started my career in a part of the bank where you got to see how the economics, how the monetary policy, how the supervision and regulation calibration all fit into the real economy. It was a real education," she said. Though the expectation was that market discipline would take care of risk, "that proved not to be the case." She also talked about how she articulates her views, which often run counter to the majority, and how she cultivates connections among institutions and community stakeholders. "The way you get that connection is you get out there," she said. "What I'm trying to build is a connection with the institution so that information can flow, so that in a time of crisis I don't have to invent those relationships."
A Tech Budget in Every Budget: As more departments reach for a piece of the technology budget, banks need to improve coordination to ensure the money is spent efficiently. Spending used to happen in a controlled environment, now technology is baked into every budget at a bank. "The way we view technology here is that it is integral to our business strategy; we don't think of them as separate things," said Amy Brady, chief information officer at KeyCorp. "While I do manage technology for the company, I do it in partnership with our business heads." Just a decade ago, she added, it was "unthinkable" that a CIO in corporate America, even outside a bank, would work so closely and report directly to the CEO. "The CIO, and the IT department, is helping to shape strategy," she said.
Exploring the Unknown: Marva Smalls has gotten comfortable with being uncomfortable, and she advises others to do the same, particularly aspiring leaders. At a recent conference hosted by the bankers associations for North Carolina and South Carolina, Smalls, the executive vice president for Viacom's global inclusion strategy, talked about the importance of plunging into the unknown as a personal growth strategy. Having grown up in Florence, S.C., she didn't have her first white classmate until high school and eventually chose to attend the University of South Carolina instead of a "small, nurturing African-American college," she said. "I felt that going to a large and more diverse college would help show me different perspectives." Smalls also spoke about the importance of being a fierce negotiator, in your own way, and finding and being a mentor.
Personal Bankers: Shouldn't banks let customers create their own chatbots? Bots are one of the hottest bank technologies and already they're repeating mistakes of the past. If the trend of bots with female names (Erica, Cleo, Penny, Nina) continues, traditional stereotypes of women and men will carry on in the digital era, says Stessa Cohen, research director at Gartner. While the female bots provide customer services like giving bank balances and bank hours, Goldman Sachs' male bot, Marcus, gives advice on loans. Cohen worries about the message all this is sending to employees. "Let the customer create her own chatbot — give it a name and voice that suits her," Cohen says. "If your bank is truly interested in diversifying your workforce and appealing to everyone, then diversify your chatbots."
The Other Way Forward: The founder and president of Anthemis Group, Amy Nauiokas, who worked on Wall Street from the 1990s until 2008, gets a front row view of fintech innovation. Despite a diverse community of smart, strong, capable entrepreneurs, however, those who get funding for their ideas are still predominantly male. "My vision goes beyond identifying great technology or business models. To me, it's about the people who we invite in to the innovation agenda and how they help to evolve and change financial services," she said. There are inherent barriers in the system of entrepreneurship that are preventing women from accessing the right level of sponsorship, support and capital to pursue their professional paths. She argues founders should be held more accountable.
Dame Clara Furse has been named chairwoman of HSBC U.K., the retail, commercial and private bank the group is severing from its investment banking business to meet new U.K. rules. She will begin her initial, three-year term in April. Furse, the former chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, was the first female member of the Bank of England's financial policy committee, from which she stepped down Tuesday after three and a half years.
Citi has named Ebru Pakcan as head of treasury and trade solutions for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. She was previously head of global payments and receivables at Citi TSS.
Gender Unbalanced News Coverage: A study by the Rockefeller Foundation and public-relations and research firm Global Strategy Group shows that media coverage of companies in crisis is unbalanced, openly assigning blame to women when they fail. Nearly 80% of stories about companies in crisis assigned blame to the CEO — when the CEO was a woman. But just 31% of coverage of companies in crisis with male CEOs assigned him blame. Of the stories about female CEOs, 16% discussed her personal life and 78% mentioned her family and children. Of stories about male CEOs, 8% touched on personal life; none of them mentioned family and children. Similarly, earlier this year, other research showed women are picked for top roles when a company is in turmoil; men tend to be picked to head a company performing well. And when a female CEO can't revive the fortunes of a company heading downhill, observers can quickly forget the circumstances under which she accepted the job.
Well Intentioned, But…: Comedian Louis C.K. spoke on Conan this week endorsing Hillary Clinton not just because she's a woman, but also a mom "A great father can give a kid 40% of his needs, tops. Tops out at 40%. Any mother… a not-even-trying mother? 200%." It plays into the old narrative that's become weirdly popular among liberal men this election cycle and that women have worked to break through, according to Constance Grady at Vox: "The idea that we need women in government because they are intrinsically morally superior to men." Grady writes, "Women should be represented in our government, this story goes, not because they are people, but because they are better than people: They are angelic; they are virtuous; they are pure."
Battle of the Sexes: Whatever the outcome of next week's election, the whole process has undeniably illuminated the belittlement, condescension and hostility that women in the workplace have endured for decades. The "he said, she said, he interrupted" theme has dominated the news cycles since the first debate. Later, tapes of Donald Trump's so called locker room comments surfaced, giving men a platform to ensure others that strong, respectful manbassadors exist and are something to strive toward. As Time puts it: "The 2016 election is a referendum on what women can be — and what men can get away with." One observer told the magazine, "You could feel how it changed. I'm such a small little piece of this, but you can feel the pulse of America." But for some women, that change is hypocritical to some degree. Be sure to vote next week, however you vote.