More Women Are Moving Into The C-Suite In Banking

According to new research, more women are reaching the C-suite in the banking industry. In this year’s Women At The Top study the results showed more women are in senior management jobs – including three CEOs, an improvement from none in 2010, and nine CFOs, up from four last year. Another area of progress has been the number of women in management as an overall percentage. In 2005, 30% of the nation’s largest banks did not have a single woman in a senior-level position. Now, just 12% have no women in management. “While progress continues to be slow, the numbers show a move in the right direction,” said Regina Barr, founder of the WATT Network and president of Red Ladder, Inc. “The addition of women in prominent positions such as CEO, CFO and chief risk officer is particularly promising, as they can impact future hiring decisions and serve as mentors to others in the industry.”

According to a recent study by Catalyst, that women in middle management need highly placed sponsors in order to vault into the elite “C-Suite” of CEOs, CFOs, and other upper-level titles. “We’re seeing the results of years of programs, mentorships and training to get women the experience, skills and connections they need to get to the top,” Barr said. “We also believe that we’re starting to see a subtle shift in how directors and senior managers view the leadership strengths of women.”

Barr also noted that in the past, consolidation in banking sometimes resulted in the loss of women in leadership positions, but in 2011, the opposite occurred – for example, when Canadian-based BMO Harris Bank N.A. acquired M&I Marshall & Ilsley Bank in Wisconsin, Ellen Costello continued as CEO of the firm’s American bank holding company, BMO Financial Corp. The study does not track the number of women holding executive-level positions in Wall Street investment firms, but it does mirror findings by the research firm Catalyst, which also found that fewer than 20% of finance industry executives and directors are women.

Earlier this week Deutsche Bank held the the  Women On Wall Street Conference. Notable speakers included Sharon Allen, the recently-retired chairman of the board of Deloitte, who said she was passed over for a promotion early in her career. When she went to her boss to find out why and listed all of her accomplishments, he told her, “I didn’t know you had done all those things.” Echoing a line often used by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, Carolyn Buck-Luce, the moderator of the panel and the global life sciences sector leader at Ernst &Young, said women shouldn’t “leave before they leave.” That is, women shouldn’t take themselves out of the running for top assignments or opportunities even if they plan to leave to have kids or take time off to raise them.”

The Women at the Top Network is a community of aspiring women who share the desire to develop and nurture their leadership skills, and those of other women.

Photo: Sukharevskyy Dmytro (nevodka)/

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