Women in finance are notoriously underrepresented. While this is slowly changing, the Covid-19 pandemic has set back some of the prior advancements. However, one of the largest banks, Citi, has attained its representation goals and exceeded them.
According to a recently published McKinsey & Company Women in the Workplace 2022 report, women leaders are leaving their jobs at the highest rate ever and a higher rate than men in leadership.
Many women are switching jobs for better opportunities, but some are considering downshifting and leaving the workforce,” stated the report.
In 2018, Citi set a goal to have 40% women in the assistant vice president to managing director roles by 2021. The results are in; women now make up 40.6% of those roles. That’s up from 37% in 2018, which already was an above-average level for the industry. The bank now wants to push this to an even higher level: reaching 43.5% by 2025.
There are three actions Citi undertook to get here. If one company can do it, so can others.
In 2021, Citi created a Diversity Sourcing team to identify diverse talent, such as those in mid and senior-level positions. The bank also expanded mentorship and internship programs focused on women college graduates to bring them into the management pipelines.
Another action was to prioritize inclusive hiring practices. To that effect, it trained all hiring managers in inclusivity. The training included writing inclusive job descriptions, designing diverse interview panels, and recruiting diverse slates via active outreach.
The third important element was to develop talented women. Citi’s Women’s Career Empowerment Program was expanded to early and mid-career women. The program currently has 14,000 employees globally. It provides women with four training sessions over four months. It covers training in strategic communication, decision-making, and networking skills. In addition, it teaches women’s managers how to support a woman’s career growth.
McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace is the most extensive study on the state of women in the U.S. it’s been organized in partnership with LeanIn.org and has surveyed more than 400,000 people between 2015 and 2022, covering over 810 company participants.
Despite a few examples of leading firms in the space, the report has concluded that women remain deeply underrepresented in leadership, especially in technical roles.
Women leaders face stronger headwinds, are overworked and underrecognized, and seek a different work culture.
Companies are also at risk of losing young women who care deeply about opportunities to advance.
“More than two-thirds of women under 30 want to be senior leaders, and well over half say advancement has become more important to them in the past two years,” the report states. “Young women are also more likely than women leaders to say they’re increasingly prioritizing flexibility and company commitment to well-being and DEI. Companies that don’t take action may struggle to recruit and retain the next generation of women leaders.”
Women also value more flexibility, such as remote and hybrid work: “When women work remotely at least some of the time, they experience fewer microaggressions and higher levels of psychological safety.”
The Women in the Workplace report provides a road map to gender equality for companies. It focuses on two broad goals: placing more women in leadership positions and retaining those already leaders.
“This will require pushing beyond common practices,” says the report. “Companies that have better representation of women, especially women of color, are going further. They’re doubling down on setting goals, tracking outcomes, and holding leaders accountable—the building blocks of driving organizational change.”