Who Are the Women of Davos?: Among the women presenting at the World Economic Forum are Inga Beale, the first female CEO of the insurance giant Lloyd's of London; Chanda Kochhar, the CEO of ICICI Bank, India's largest private bank; and Elvira Nabiullina, the first woman to take the role of governor of the Bank of Russia. If you're interested in gender issues, you can follow the livestream of Davos sessions, including a debate on "Progress Towards Parity" Friday at 4pm CET.
Talking to the Top: At least two reports on gender equality are being released in Davos this week, where gender diversity is a more prominent topic than in the past, even though just 18% of attendees are women. Theresa Whitmarsh, head of the Washington State Investment Board, and Elizabeth Nyamayaro, head of the U.N. Women's HeForShe campaign, are each releasing studies on the lack of women in top roles within the financial services world. Whitmarsh intends to bring attention to women's biological and cognitive differences from men, which she says account for differences in their decision-making approaches. Nyamayaro's work focuses on men's involvement in advancing gender equality, since historically and at present men hold most of the positions of power. HeForShe, recognizing the lack of a measuring unit for gender equality, will publish the gender makeup of 10 global companies, including Barclays.
Five More Years?: The International Monetary Fund's Christine Lagarde is the best leader its ever had, according to political scientist Ian Bremmer. He says she restored its reputation – following the scandal of her predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn and financial meltdown of 2008 that tainted Western-led lenders – and brought "creativity and compassion" and "a human face" to the organization. She also identified and acted on three of "the most important challenges facing today's world," including advocacy for women in the workforce and women in leadership, he says. Lagarde has previously expressed her willingness to serve another term. "The world badly needs a leader dedicated to making the world a safer and more prosperous place. Lagarde has shown that she is such a leader," Bremmer says. "She deserves the chance to finish what she started." (By the way, Lagarde is also among the featured speakers in Davos.)
Sustainability in the Workplace: The glut of Davos op-eds out there include two from Bank of America executives, one on sustainability, the other on diversity. Climate change is everyone's responsibility, not just that of government leaders, argues Anne Finucane, Bank of America's vice chairman and global chief strategy and marketing officer, in a Huff-Po op-ed. Businesses in particular have an opportunity to commit to environmental and economic sustainability, not just by investing financial and intellectual capital, but also by improving the culture and environment in the workplace. To B of A, she says, that means giving employees a better quality of life – offering competitive wages and benefits that allow employees to balance their professional and personal lives. In a separate op-ed for American Banker, Cathy Bessant, B of A's chief operations and technology officer, says improving gender diversity is a must for economic development, not just cultural development. Both Finucane and Bessant are on our Most Powerful Women in Banking list, and Bessant did this video interview with us on why she thinks gender matters.
How to Be a Smart Company: Increase pay and parental leave and offer help with financial education. Those are three ways companies can support their female employees, which they would want to do if they are smart, says Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest. Start with a higher budget for salaries à la Marc Benioff at Salesforce, who added $3 million to its salary budget to help close its gender pay gap, she advises. And providing employees with parental leave can actually save companies $19 billion annually, because finding, hiring and training new employees is costly, she points out.
UMB Financial in Kansas City, Mo., has promoted Jenny Payne to chief risk officer from director of corporate risk services.
Morgan Stanley has appointed Shelley O'Connor and Andy Saperstein as co-heads of wealth management. "Our bench in wealth management is particularly strong. Andy and Shelley both have deep experience," said James Gorman, Morgan Stanley's CEO.
In Case You Missed It
Not a Wall Street Wolf: Judith McGee of Portland was one of the first women to become a certified financial planner. At age 72 she is the CEO of McGee Wealth Management and the first of three generations of women in the field. She says financial planning is ideal for women. "It's a great, great profession for women because it's caregiving and it's analytical. It's detailed, but it's also unstructured. So it's a little bit of everything — but mostly, it's a helping profession," McGee says. Women make up about 14% of financial planners today, but McGee says the dearth of female talent has to do with public perception of the financial services industry. "In the world at large, it makes great movies to have 'The Wolf of Wall Street.' But that isn't the reality of what we do," she says. "The national firms — all of them — are crying for diversity. Not just women, but women of color, women of different cultures."
Working Women… or Not: A report by the World Economic Forum itself predicts the global economy will lose 7.1 million jobs by 2020 to artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, and "smart" home, factory, and farm systems – and the burden will fall disproportionately on women. The WEF's measure of gender gap in the workforce has only narrowed 3% since 2006. Jobs in computers and math are expected to make up for jobs lost, but female participation in those sectors is so low that it predicts "nearly one new STEM job per four jobs lost for men, but only one new STEM job per 20 jobs lost for women." The report, issued Monday, indicated that the notion of women's talents being "underutilized" is not giving companies' leadership the sense of urgency necessary to turn that around, as only 53% indicated women in senior leadership is a priority. Good thing it's a hot topic at the leadership forum this year – but even though female participation this year is double that of 2002, women still haven't cracked 20%.
The U.N. Gets in on the Action: The United Nations is creating a panel on women's economic empowerment, which will come up with a plan of action by September. The recommendations are likely to including giving women the right to create a business and the right to set up a bank account in countries where it is currently forbidden. "The empowerment of the world's women is a global imperative," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said when announcing the plan in Davos.