Women in Banking: Deutsche's New Goals and the Leaky Pipeline

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The Goal Is One Woman: Deutsche Bank AG has announced plans to appoint "at least one woman" to its currently all-male management board … by mid-2017. The board had a female member once before, Ellen Ruth Schneider-Lenne, but has not had another one since her death in 1996. So 20 years on, hooray for progress! Deutsche, the parent company for Europe's biggest investment bank, also set the same timeline for achieving its goal of having women comprise 17% and 21% respectively of its next two highest management levels (up from the current 14% for both). By late 2020, it aims to elevate those percentages to 20% and 25% respectively.

Who's Afraid of Mary Jo White?: MJW continues to live up to her reputation "for unrelenting toughness and prosecutorial vigor." Some might be of the opinion that the chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission needs to be better at cracking the whip on megabanks (ahem… Ms. Warren), but penalties for SEC cases can't just be waved away. "Many are barred from the securities industry or from being an officer or director of a public com­pany," White says. "We're going to be relentless about any misconduct that occurs." She once said that in some cases the commission would only settle charges against companies if they admit guilt — likely a punch in the gut for them, unless you're a financial powerhouse like JPM. And White says the SEC has obtained more such admissions this year than ever.

Sallie Got a Brand New GTO: There is an impressive array of backers for Sallie Krawcheck's latest venture, Ellevest, an investment website aimed at women and set to launch in 2016. The ex-Bank of America and Citigroup executive will be CEO of the new venture, and Charlie Kroll, former CEO of financial technology firm Andera Inc., will be president and COO. Ellevest just closed a $10 million funding round that includes MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga, Allianz SE chief economic adviser Mohamed El-Erian and Depository Trust & Clearing Chairman Robert Druskin. Ellevest is just the latest of Krawcheck's female-oriented ventures. Others include Pax Ellevate Global Women's Index Fund, which invests in companies that have female directors and top managers.

Mending the Leaky Pipeline: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citi say they have improved retention of female employees with programs targeting demographic subgroups, such as midlevel women, execs transitioning back into the workforce and female vice presidents in their 20s and 30s. After participating in these programs, midlevel women are outpacing their peers in title and advancement, half of participants transitioning back to work are getting offers, and female VPs are winning promotions. How this helps the lack of gender diversity in the C-suite remains to be seen. The biggest U.S. banks have never had a female CEO, and the number of women getting close has hardly moved in recent years.

Role Call

Santander Bank has hired Siobhan Schroth as market director for corporate and commercial banking in New York and New Jersey. She was previously president and market executive for Bank of America's middle-market commercial banking in the New York metro area.

Sound Financial Bancorp in Seattle has brought on Christina Gehrke as chief administrative officer of its Sound Community Bank. The former Federal Home Loan Bank executive will oversee marketing, human resources and management of products, vendors and facilities.

Four Oaks Fincorp in Four Oaks, N.C., has named Deanna Hart as chief financial officer effective Oct. 1. Hart has been acting CFO since Nancy Wise's resignation a month ago.

The CFO of Washington Federal in Seattle, Diane Kelleher, plans to step down at yearend to "pursue other opportunities," the company said. Kelleher has worked at Washington Federal since January 2010.

In Case You Missed It

Like the Energizer Bunny: EnerBank USA has an unusual business model, devised by CEO Louise Kelly. She came up with the strategy earlier in her career, and when her company was unsupportive, she found a willing buyer for her idea, and her lending operation, in CMS Energy. This year, EnerBank reached a milestone of $1 billion in assets, just ahead of Kelly's retirement in December. Her biggest challenge now: transitioning to a new phase where she is solely a director. Kelly is a newcomer to our Most Powerful Women in Finance rankings.  

Ghost Writer: As the assistant director of regulations at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kelly Cochran has had a hand in every rule that has come out of the agency, making her one of the most influential people in financial services and arguably the most active federal financial regulator in recent years. Finalizing the mortgage rulemakings — an effort Cochran's team led — is among the most challenging tasks she's had. Cochran could have moved on from the CFPB afterward, but she says her work is getting even more interesting, as "we're moving now into areas such as looking at payday lending and debt collection.

Mapping the Future: Synchrony CEO Margaret Keane is laying the groundwork for her company's success as it separates from a deep-pocked parent that is beloved by employees. The process — expected to be complete in early 2016 — presents an opportunity for competitors to woo employees and customers of this specialty credit card issuer. Are Keane's leadership abilities up to the challenge? Observers and insiders alike think so.

Beyond Banking

Nonprofit Transition: WomenCorporateDirectors, the membership community of female corporate directors, is rebranding as a not-for-profit foundation called the WomenCorporateDirectors Education and Development Foundation. KPMG has purchased the assets of WCD and contributed them to the newly created WCD Foundation. "We embrace the WCD Foundation's focus on increasing boardroom diversity and advancing leading practices in corporate governance," KPMG U.S. chair and CEO Lynne Doughtie said in announcing the move. The KPMG support allows WCD to add a handful of local chapters next year, expand its educational and networking events for directors and host additional OnBoard Bootcamps and other programs for new directors.

Global Power Girl: IBM just added Hutham S. Olayan to its board of directors. Olayan is a senior executive at the Saudi Arabian multinational conglomerate The Olayan Group, where she oversees operations and investments for North, Central and South America. She is IBM's fourth female board member (alongside CEO Ginni Rometty, Columbia University professor Joan Spero, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute president Shirley Ann Jackson). Olayan is also on the board of Morgan Stanley. The Olayan Group is the leading franchise holder for Burger King in the Middle East and North Africa. It is also the local Middle East manufacturer of Kleenex, Coca-Cola and Huggies. (Does the Olayan name sound familiar? You might recall Lubna Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Co., is doing a lot to advance women at her Saudi company.)

Diverse Values Makes Diversity Harder: Maybe there's a gender gap in the C-suite because women don't really want to be there — at least not as strongly as men do. Is that taboo to say? Francesca Gino and Alison Wood Brooks co-authored a paper suggesting men and women have different preferences for promotions in the workplace reflective of the values they place on "power." Apparently, many women believe having more power at work would require them to compromise other priorities in their lives. Gino and Brooks aren't saying women aren't ambitious. "Success, especially professional success, means different things to different people," they wrote. But most people, especially women, don't define it strictly within the confines of their careers. (This calls to mind a story we wrote about a study conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation that also keyed in on how men and woman have different perceptions of power. The takeaway there is that power tends to lose its luster for women a lot faster than it does for men.)

So 100 Years Later: Whatever the root causes may be, the gender imbalance in top jobs looks like it will remain an issue for the rest of our lifetime at least. In corporate America, women's C-suite equality is 100 years away, according to a study by McKinsey and Apparently, stress is more of a career obstacle for women than men and a substantial amount of people think companies' big equality talk is cheap. Who knew?

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