By B. Zarzur
The fact that there are more men in the financial sector is undeniable. Finance, a historically male dominated field, has many barriers to entry for women, from the unforgiving hours, to a "macho" culture that has kept women at bay. Finance is still a "boys' club"; this is more than a reflection of the general workforce, where women are less active due to the social pressure of motherhood. The financial sector has some of the highest salaries and is home to some of the most entrenched privilege of the corporate world: but things are changing.
After the Me Too movement and increasing pressure form ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investors, company boards have committed to change corporate culture, make companies more inclusive, and increase diversity across all divisions. After all, there is ample research proving that diverse teams routinely outperform less diverse ones.
Wall Street is also paying attention. On September 10th, Citi Group announced their first woman CEO, Jane Fraser; which will replace the current chief executive, Michael Corbrat in February 2021. This is the first time a bank on wall street will be led by a woman.
Scottish born Jane Fraser has degrees from Harvard Business School and Cambridge University. Her career in finance begun at Goldman Sachs, in London. As a mother of two, Mrs. Fraser tackles the balance between her work and family, reporting to CNN, "You cannot have it all at the same time. You can have it all, spread over decades. I think of my life in different chunks. When the kids were little, I needed to be around more, but it's different now".
In the later years, Fraser moved to the US as an opportunity in Citi group caught her eye. Since 2004, Mrs. Fraser has made highly beneficial contributions to the company. In the 2010s, she was the head of the bank’s Latin American operations (2015-2019). Fraser states that she “received some pretty negative press”, among other dismissive comments. However, Fraser’s work has not gone unnoticed, as she has now succeeded Michael Corbrat (CEO of Citi Group for eight years), shattering preconceived norms of who a CEO should be.
Although 40% of the employees in the financial sector are women, they are remarkably underrepresented in the C-suite. It is about time, other companies, in and out of the financial sector, better lookout.