Pressure’s on: State Street Global Advisors intends to pressure big Japanese and Canadian companies to appoint more women to their boards, beginning next year. This is an extension of a shareholder campaign already underway in the U.K., Australia and the U.S., where it found 468 of the companies in which it is a shareholder had no female directors. The index-fund giant plans to wield its voting power to oppose the re-election of directors who are involved in the nomination process for new board members but fail to make strides toward adding women.

Class of 2017: Goldman Sachs has promoted 509 people to managing director, 24% of them women. By comparison, the 2015 class had 425 recruits, 25% of which were women. Managing director is the second highest nonexecutive title at the firm, and the selections are made every other November. Before 2013, Goldman named new managing directors every year.

Dot-banks: In mid-2015, several thousand banks registered for dot-bank domains. More than two years later, only a few hundred have converted. Lead Bank, a $200 million-asset bank in Garden City, Mo., was an early mover. It converted to a dot-bank domain two years ago, timing the switch to coincide with its expansion into a new market, according to Melissa Beltrame, Lead’s director of marketing. Beltrame saw the move as a way to improve security and show that small banks can keep up with technology. Lead has had to work on keeping its dot-bank labeled emails from ending up in spam filters, but Beltrame said it hasn’t lost SEO value and consumers aren’t confused. “If anything, it created a sense of curiosity,” she said. “I can’t figure out why more banks don’t move to dot-bank. It seems like a no-brainer.”

Melissa Beltrame, director of marketing at Lead Bank.
Melissa Beltrame, director of marketing at Lead Bank, likens the dot-bank investment to a flu shot.

Cyber culture: If banks are going to fend off cyber crime, they need to improve their internal culture, says Standard Chartered’s cyber security chief Cheri McGuire. Companies should make cyber security “easy to understand,” she said. “If you are not in the cyber security business, it can be a very intimidating thing.” That step is key to getting all employees involved in the process. “The most important thing for us is to make it real so that employees understand that they are part of equation,” she said. Under her stewardship, Standard Chartered has launched a major cyber security training initiative, with information security champions all over the world conducting special training sessions. “It’s a very focused program to make sure that we maintain a level of awareness and a level of security across our business culture that looks at this as a business risk, not as an IT problem,” McGuire said.

#BMOforWomen: Bank of Montreal has some new video ads out that encourage viewers to look past their preconceived notions of what women can achieve in the business world. A female voice narrates stories of Sam and Jamie with the camera focused on men in the foreground. By the end of the clips, the blurry figures — the “real” Sam and Jamie — come into focus, and it’s clear that they are women. It’s a riff on the theme of visibility and the fact that strong, successful women are frequently overlooked. Women make up 40% of senior management at BMO — a goal the company set for itself five years ago and achieved in 2016. Check out our must-read interview with Bill Downe from earlier this year, in which Downe, who just retired as BMO’s chief executive on Oct. 31, talks about strategies banks can use to get results in creating a more equitable environment.

Recognition is not enough: The CEO and founder of digital challenger bank Starling, Anne Boden, is calling for more action on diversity after the publishing of Innovate Finance’s Women in Fintech Powerlist compiled in partnership with Lloyds and law firm Hogan Lovells. "Stop trying to think of this as a women’s issue," Boden said. "Stop trying to think of this as something we must do for women. This is a question of fixing organizations.” She said the state of female leaders in the industry is “disappointing” and “not getting any better.” And, she said, it is not because there’s a lack of female talent or because women have other responsibilities at home. The onus is on organizations to find women, make sure they’re visible and make sure they get promoted. "I think it is harder for women to get promoted, harder for women to climb the ladder. We have to be aware of that and do our best to give everyone a fair and equal opportunity to get to the top of organizations,” she said.

The dames of Davos: The 2018 World Economic Forum will be co-chaired by seven women (and no men, apparently). Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, is one of the seven and the only one from the financial sector.


Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Bloomberg News

Role call

Citigroup has hired two executives from outside the company for key technology roles. Lisa Cochran joined this week as head of operations digitization and technology; she was previously president of sales, servicing and digital technology at Humana. Yasaman Hadjibashi will become global consumer technology head of data and analytics on Nov. 27. Hadjibashi was previously the group chief creation officer of Barclays Africa Group.

Nicole Carillo, chief financial officer of Opus Bank in Irvine, Calif., has resigned, though she continues to work with the bank as a consultant. Carillo, who has served as CFO since 2013, helped manage two major capital raises for Opus — its initial public offering in April 2014, which brought in more than $153 million for the bank and selling shareholders, and a $200 million secondary offering in November 2015. Kevin Thompson succeeded Carillo in the CFO role.

Beyond banking

The power of one: Unlike many other 14- and 15-year old girls in her Nepalese village, Sheskalo Pandey rejected child marriage and started her own business making and selling handcrafted baskets to pay her monthly school fees. Now, other girls are following her lead and staying in school. “I could barely leave the house without somebody stopping me. Mothers were pleading with me to teach their daughters how to make money so that they could stay in school too, and my friends were telling their parents they didn’t want to get married either,” she said. What’s next for the young entrepreneur? Along with taking classes to learn Microsoft Word and Excel, she hopes to tackle the issue of gender-based violence.

Prison food: The San Diego Women’s Prison in Colombia has something new on the menu — an inmate-run restaurant with food and service to rival any five star venue. The 180 women who rotate shifts at “El Restaurante Interno” have been trained by celebrity chefs and take turns serving food and working in the kitchen, the bakery, and the garden. Revenue from the project is used to improve prison infrastructure: Since the opening of the restaurant, the prison has added a library, a computer room and a garden. The venture is a part of a rehabilitation program supported by Fundacion Accion Interna, a charity started by Colombian actress Johana Bahamon. Her mission: “for these women to have the tools they need to prepare them for freedom, so that they can return in a dignified way,” she said.

Car troubles: Words, words, words are keeping many women out of the auto industry, both as workers and as enthusiasts, according to best-selling author Maggie Stiefvater. “Our automotive lingo keeps describing women who can’t drive, don’t understand their cars and don’t want to understand their cars,” she wrote this week in Automotive News. “It keeps making women who know cars well into exceptions and turning fast drivers into pinup models. It rejects any information that refutes this version of reality and embraces and amplifies any that doesn’t.” She called on the auto industry to move past the confirmation bias that feeds into negative stereotypes and holds progress back in many ways. Her eloquent essay is worth reading.

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Tina Snieder and Bonnie McGeer contributed to this report.

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