Women in Banking

#MeToo fallout, the frustrating Fed and the changing role of the CMO

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Save the diversity initiatives: Men and women in the banking, payments and mortgage sectors are divided over the potential impact of the #MeToo movement. Though 36% believe it will have some impact, and another 8% think it will have a high impact, not all agree that the impact will be positive. Dorothy Savarese, the chairman and chief executive of the $3.2 billion-asset Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank in Harwich, Mass., worries that some men are thinking twice about mentoring female colleagues. “It’s important for managers and CEOs to get out in front of the discussion and say, ‘We want those mentoring and sponsor programs,’” she said. “We need to create programs to encourage that to happen.” A well-established investment banker in her 40s says she worries that men could let their unfounded fears of false accusations influence hiring decisions. But having experienced lewd comments and groping in her career early on, she also hopes for a lasting cultural change that benefits the next generation. “I think it will have a positive effect in making younger generations aware of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable,” she said. “When I was in my 20s and witnessed these things, I just thought that’s how society was, this is how the professional world is. I thought I had to put up with this.”

Status quo at the Federal Reserve?: John Williams, president of the San Francisco branch of the Federal Reserve, has emerged as a front-runner to succeed William Dudley as head of the New York Fed This is despite the fact that the central bank – which has been roundly criticized for its lack of diversity in key positions – hired a search firm specifically to identify female and minority candidates. Julia Coronado, founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives and a member of the New York Fed's economic advisory panel, questioned Williams’ qualifications, noting that he has shown little interest in market functioning. "The pick seems to reinforce the status quo that a woman has to be absolutely perfectly qualified to get top positions while a man can have significant shortfalls in his resume and still come out ahead," Coronado said. (American Banker also has a BankThink piece complaining that Williams would be a poor choice: N.Y. Fed doesn't need a regulator who whiffed on Wells.)

On leave: Douglas E. Greenberg, one of Morgan Stanley’s top financial advisers, has been put on “administrative leave pending further review,” after the New York Times reported that four women have sought police protection against him over the past 15 years. According to the Times, Morgan Stanley executives knew about his alleged harassment of ex-wives and ex-girlfriends for years, but did not take action until the paper called to ask about the claims. “None of the women Mr. Greenberg is said to have abused were employed by Morgan Stanley,” the paper said. “But employees in the finance industry — especially those who manage money for clients — are judged in part on their character. That puts the onus on companies, and regulators, to police their conduct even outside the office.”

Numbers parade: Banks continued to publish their gender pay gap data for U.K. employees this week. Citigroup said it pays female employees in that country an average of 44% less than it pays male employees, with the gap widening to 67% for bonuses. Bank of America’s women are paid 29% less in salary and 58% less in bonuses than the men. Morgan Stanley’s female staff received 42% less in salary and 73% less for bonuses, and Credit Suisse’s female staff, 39% less in salary and 70% less for bonuses. The disclosures are required under new U.K. legislation that applies to all companies with at least 250 employees.

Marketers as technologists: The role of the chief marketing officer is changing. Historically there’s been a divide between the customer experience and the marketing functions at banks, but now product teams are going to CMOs for help figuring out how to navigate customer expectations. “What changes is how you connect,” said Donna Vieira, chief marketing officer for JPMorgan Chase’s consumer bank. “The channels, mediums and media you use, the copy and creative form like memes and GIFs. Clearly 15 years ago this would be nonexistent, but it’s how this audience communicates with each other [and] tells their stories.” In the age of fintech, the basis for trust is becoming less about brand and almost entirely dependent on customer experience, so marketers need to be as close to product teams as they are to customers, she said. Jennifer Breithaupt, the CMO of the global consumer bank at Citigroup, agreed. “As data is fueling the next generation of digital solutions, the way we develop, deliver and market solutions is evolving as well,” she said. “We’re focused on harnessing the power of data to continuously enhance the customer experience and to give time back to our customers.”

Social advocacy: Marketing managers have become increasingly responsible for quantifying return on investment on social media initiatives. “Often as marketing and social media experts we expect execs to speak our language — I don’t think that’s correct,” said Melissa Musgrove, head of social media at Regions Bank. “We need to speak their language when we talk about the value of what we do, that’s going to resonate so much more with them.” That includes delivering examples of why social media is meaningful, how it drives revenue and generates loyalty and how it enhances brand reputation among consumers. Recent customer data from Regions found that the average household revenue of customers who are active on social media is 60% higher than that of customers who engage less with social media, or not at all. Regions also found that total household deposits for social media users are, on average, 76% higher than the deposits of customers who aren’t active on social media.

Set up for success: Nasdaq President and CEO Adena Friedman is featured in the New York Times’ “Corner Office” this week, where she discusses how her upbringing set her up for success on Wall Street. Friedman spent her youth hanging out on the trading floor of T. Rowe Price, where her father worked. She attended all-girls schools that encouraged students to pursue their ambitions. And she was motivated to succeed in large part by watching her mother transition from a stay-at-home mom to a career woman. Friedman said she also received strong support from her father and benefited from having three male mentors in her career. Despite growing up on Wall Street, Friedman said she originally wanted to major in political science but changed her mind after interning one summer on Capitol Hill. It “was somewhat of a disillusioning experience realizing how policy really gets made,” she said. “You kind of walk in with this idealistic view of, ‘Of course your congressman’s going to represent all of your interests.' I came away saying, ‘Wow, progress is slow.’”

Cameo appearance: Catch Omeed Malik, who left Bank of America in January following allegations of inappropriate conduct by female employees, in the season three premier of “Billions." Malik makes a cameo in the Showtime drama as a guest at a high-powered dinner of hedge fund managers. Believe it when you see it, even though he’s listed in the credits as Omar Malkov. (For a refresher on Malik's exit from his job at the bank, please see "BofA's brush with sexual harassment shows need for more openness.")

Role call

Western Union’s Sheri Rhodes has been promoted to executive vice president and chief technology officer. Rhodes joined the company last May as a senior vice president and CTO for digital and payments.

Beyond banking

Digital bias-busting: Slack is developing “personal analytics” to help people keep biased behavior in check at work. It is developing a service that will send individual users reports on their own behavior, noting whether they talk to men differently than they talk to women, talk to subordinates differently than they talk to superiors, or talk differently in public channels than in private conversations. Research has found that men tend to dominate public-channel conversations with authoritative communication styles while women tend to use “supportive, friendly punctuation” and modify their opinions with hedges (“I could be wrong, but…”). Slack is beginning to acknowledge its role in perpetuating and even augmenting workplace bias. “If there are deep and systemic problems at an organization, Slack can exaggerate them,” said CEO Steward Butterfield. “If there are real positive attributes and successful [negotiating and conversational] skills within an organization, those can be supercharged.” These personal analytics are still being tested, but Slack’s plan is to continue developing them over the next couple years and eventually be able to provide customers with insights about themselves and their organizations.

Recasting outdated stereotypes: Actress Margot Robbie is producing a TV series with the Australian Broadcasting Company that will focus on improving the portrayal of Shakespeare’s women as well as elevating roles for women in general. An analysis of Shakesepeare’s plays shows he tends to recycle seven stock female characters, ranging from the “bawdy working-class” and “witty, unmarriageable” women who “need a man to put them in their place,” to “tragic, faithful lovers accused of adultery by men who regard women’s morals as little higher than a dog’s.” Women who are clever, strong and powerful usually end up mad, silenced or dead. And when the female characters have integrity, more often than not they are killed off in the final act. “To say and do things that ‘nice girls’ should not while being dressed as a woman is a fast route to a thrashing or the grave,” Danuta Kean writes in the Guardian. “In a production like those planned by Robbie, which will include Australian women across all class, racial and sexual divides, one wonders how it will be possible to remain true to the spirit of the plays without pandering to outdated stereotypes.”

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Gender issues Fintech Marketing Sexual harassment Women in Banking