With Jane Fraser being appointed as the new head of Citygroup, more and more women are taking charge of the US banking sector.
Jane Fraser is the first woman to lead such a large bank in the United States, despite the fact that 40% of financial institution employees are female. According to some rumors, Cathy Bessant could take the head of Wells Fargo. 3 other women, Jennifer Piepszak, Mary Erdoes and Marianne Lake, are also candidates to succeed to Jamie Dimon at the head of JP Morgan Chase.
Of 91 financial companies ranked in the Fortune 500, only 7 led by women.
In Europe, Christine Lagarde took the head in 2019 of the European Central Bank. However, very few women lead major European banks Among them, Ana Botín runs the first Spanish bank in Santander, taking over the position from her father Emilio Botin, who died in 2014.
Alison Rose joined her in 2019, taking the helm of NatWest Group, a holding that also owns Royal Bank of Scotland.
This slow progress is in contrast with the significant increase in the representation of women on boards of large banks over the last 20 years. 20% of Executive Committee members are believed to be women in Europe, reports The Financial Times in 2019, the vast majority being based in London.
Numerous unconscious biases are still slowing down the progression of women in banks
In many financial institutions, leadership is strongly associated with a masculine character. Many people still tend to have a strong association between man and leader and man and banker. Different types of unconscious bias also impact different areas. In investment banking, women are often subconsciously perceived to be less effective in performing complex analyzes than men. In several financial institutions, many executives, male or female, also find it difficult to trust women for a large variety of reasons which are shaped by the culture of the bank.
Significant structural barriers also make it difficult for women to access positions of responsibility, and in particular work organization which often does not allow effective reconciliation of professional and personal life.
The few banks that have been able to respond effectively to women’s double career have generally seen improvements in overall productivity – including men – and hence in their overall performance.