'Masculinize' for Success: A report on women in the financial services industry from Oliver Wyman helps illuminate some of the ways that gender is still a factor that keeps many from advancing — even if the days of overt sexism may be over. A big reason why the career prospects of women in this industry are poor compared with other industries is that unconscious bias and gender role expectations still disadvantage women greatly. As one younger banker in the study observed, "We end up having to 'masculinize' our female traits." It goes beyond workplace tone and atmosphere to unstated ideas of qualities for success, which have been created predominantly by male executives over decades and tend to be characteristically male qualities. For those keeping track of the numbers, Oliver Wyman's analysis of SEC filings for 50 large U.S. financial services companies found that women have 22% of the board seats, 20% of the executive committee roles and 12% of the CEO jobs. The full article is well worth reading.
Do What Works: Clearly, the effectiveness of gender diversity initiatives inside many financial institutions has plateaued, and two headhunters say the industry needs to respond with new tactics. Women make up half the industry, but there's still a retention problem that keeps the executive ranks predominantly male. If there weren't, more women would be in more positions of power. Scrap those ineffective programs, say Peter Gomez and Susan Medina, who are with one of the largest woman-owned executive search firms, Battalia Winston. Companies should take mentorship programs to the next level: sponsorship. A multicultural sponsorship study found men and women with sponsors are more likely to ask for stretch assignments, pay raises and promotions; 70% of those with sponsors were satisfied with their rate of advancement; 60% of people of color with a sponsor were less likely to quit within a year than those without sponsor support. Companies also need to "rewrite the playbook on on-the-job training" to incorporate stretch assignments.
No Hollywood Ending: The last movie about female executives on Wall Street was "Working Girl" in 1983. The end of the movie left the audience feeling euphoric. But in creating the movie "Equity," screenwriter Amy Fox says sheset out to explore — as authentically as possible — the experiences women have in financial services, and the truths that she encountered in interviews were not pretty.
Bingeworthy?: "Equity," the Wall Street thriller with all female lead characters, is being adapted by ABC for the small screen. It's worth noting that the film had many women behind the scenes too, including the director, the producers and the screenwriter. It also had female financial backers, such as Barclays' Barbara Byrne, who talked to us about why she gets involved in projects like this.
Family Service: In the Middle East, the wealth management business tends to serve larger family units, according to Tara Smyth, managing director and head of the Middle East investments team at J.P. Morgan. Many of JPM's Middle East clients have banked with the firm for 40 years and are into the third generation of family business. "Those families work together and are focused on trying to make sure it is sustainable through generations," she said. Sometimes they bring daughters to meetings, because "they are interested for them to meet a woman in business," she added. "They encourage them to ask questions and participate." Smyth said for wealth to survive generations, "it is important to have the next generation well educated."
Patti Husic, president and CEO of Centric Bank in Harrisburg, Pa., was elected to a three-year term on the American Bankers Association's board of directors. (Husic is on our list of the Most Powerful Women in Banking.)
In Case You Missed It
Bottom Line: Regular readers of this weekly news scan are familiar with the research demonstrating a link between companies' gender diversity and their financial performance. But Debbie Matz, who is on the board at Mutual of Omaha Bank and is the former chairman of the National Credit Union Administration, points out that only 23% of respondents in one study agreed that that there is such a connection. Matz also says that though diversity as a business priority can lead to financial benefits, there is a caveat: "Diversity without inclusion will not produce the desired results." Companies must not only seek a diverse workforce, but make sure their business culture is accepting of that diversity in order to really thrive.
Gala Night: Scroll through the photos from American Banker's gala celebrating the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance to see some of the 800 people who attended. One trend that stands out is the increasing presence each year of honorees who bring their daughters to the event.
Different Setting, Same Challenges: Today at the FBI, women hold 12% of 220 senior agent positions. In 2013, they held about 20% of senior agent jobs and 15 women ran field offices. What's up with that? The reasons for the drop-off might sound familiar: the FBI's path to promotion is often less appealing to women, as agents can be transferred at a moment's notice, having to uproot to new locations without their children and spouses for long stretches of time. Also, there is a lack of high-ranking female role models and mentors. A woman has never been in charge of a large operational division like counterterrorism and has never been deputy director or director.
That Was Then: Sometimes it's easy to forget just how much women's lives have improved in recent decades. Check out this video on things women couldn't do before the 1970s. For example, they couldn't get credit cards in their name until 1974, keep their jobs while pregnant until 1987, or pay a man's rate for health insurance until… 2010?