Filling the Gender Gap: Women in the Financial Industry
By: Carly Souther
Gender and diversity gaps exist in most industries in the United States and around the world. Below, you will read about two financial institutions and one lending trend that have started to fill these lacunae in recent years.
San Francisco Fed. In the last four years, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has worked to close the gender and diversity gaps. Emphasizing the gender imbalances at the start of 2012 (80%/20% male/female research associates), SeniorVice President and Associate Director of Research Mary C. Daly recently explained how the San Francisco Fed began to fill these gaps:
"As a gay woman working in a male-dominated profession, I'm acutely aware of the need for diversity and the importance of being included. And yet, I've made excuses. The biggest change was in our mindset. We acknowledged that we were not victims of a backwards world but rather causalities of our own excuses."
Daly says that diversity goes beyond hiring employees with PhDs, and includes hiring research associates from all graduate level backgrounds.
Online Lending. Research shows that women small-business owners who apply for loans online are more likely to be approved than if they apply in-person at a bank. This indicates that automated credit decisions may be fairer than the traditional in-person bank loan. Approximately 30% of loans made through the online lending company SmartBiz Loans went to female entrepreneurs in 2016, as opposed to just 18% of Small Business Administration 504 and 7(a) loans. Associate Administrator for the SBA's Office of Capital Access Erin Andrew said, with online lending, "You're looking at the numbers, you're not looking at me. When lending is blind, you see the borrower based on what they have to bring to the table, what the business looks like — you don't see them based on gender."
Millennial Advisory Board. Centric Bank in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has partnered with the Harrisburg Young Professionals to create the Millennial Advisory Board (MAB). The purpose of the 16-person MAB is to understand the needs and preferences of Millenials, the largest demographic of the U.S. workforce, with respect to the type of relationship they want to have with their bank and the types of financial services they need. Patti Husic, CEO of Centric Bank, explains that "[e]xcellent customer service invites a two-way conversation with your audiences. We are not relying on statistics alone or third-party market studies. We want our primary source to be the potential customers who represent our demographic."
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