November 10, 2020

I recently had the honor of moderating a break-out session during the “Promoting Growth & Prosperity Through the Banking Industry: The Power of Gender Diversity in the Board Room and C-Suite” conference, co-hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Bank On Women, Inc. and The Risk Management Association. Robust conversation among industry leaders and experts delivered powerful, actionable insights.

Consider This:

  • Diversity drives performance. Research shows an increase of women from 0% to 30% in corporate leadership (c-suite and board members) equals a 15% Increase in profitability. (Terrie Spiro and Jennifer Docherty, Co-Founders, Bank on Women, Inc.)
  • As part of their due diligence, Millennials and GenZ applicants review the recruiting organizations’ websites for diversity among leadership and this partly informs their decision to apply or not. (Mika Moser, COO, Tennessee Justice Center)
  • We’re heading into a COVID-induced She-cession. The global labor market is failing for women, especially for those of color. This will cause real leakage in women being promoted and in the overall talent pipeline. (Karin Kimbrough, Chief Economist, LinkedIn)

What Organizations Can Do:

  • Many women leave the workforce around age 35 as family needs intervene at that time – that is the time for senior management to do everything they can to keep them engaged. One of the biggest strategies is to ensure you have family-friendly policies. (Tom Barkin, President & CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; and Mary Daly, President & CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)
  • Implement a “reverse mentor program” in your organization to aid workplace culture and grow new products and services. Senior leaders are paired with earlier-in-their-career teammates and/or front-line employees; senior leaders learn a lot from these “mentors” and build key relationships across the organization. (Cecilia Hodges, Greater Washington Region President, M&T Bank)
  • Consider reliance on “skills” over “signals”. There are so few C-Suite women, making the universe for drawing Board members from the C-suite hard to do. Consider drawing from those who have the skills to do it but may not have gone to the “right” schools or sit in the “typical” jobs for ascendency to a Board role. (Karin Kimbrough, Chief Economist, LinkedIn)

What Women Can Do:

  • Your network informs your opportunity. Go outside your normal connections to expand your network.  (Karin Kimbrough, Chief Economist, LinkedIn)
  • Build a personal advisory board. Fill it with people who connect you to organizations that really walk the walk for diversity. (From breakout group discussion.)
  • Think about who has your back. Engage with those who believe in your capabilities more than you do. It builds confidence and creates opportunities. (Becky Bareford, First VP and COO, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond)

How will you – individually and organizationally – work toward improving gender diversity?