Seeing Yourself at the Table

September 09, 2019

By Alaina Webster, Managing Editor

Women in positions of authority isn’t a new idea. Or to rephrase, a woman, singular, in a position of authority isn’t a new idea. However, multiple women in charge, perhaps even a higher number of women than men, that’s taking some getting used to. As women demand more — an equal number of — seats at the table, it’s clear they will have to rely on one another to get there.

“Some of my toughest adversaries early in my career were women,” Debbie Bianucci, president and CEO of Chicago-based BAI told me. “I can think of one situation where all I wanted was for this person to accept me and support me, and as it often happened back then, many women seemed threatened by other women.”

Bridgette Williams, board member of Lead Bank (Kansas City) and executive director of the Heavy Constructors Association of Greater Kansas City, echoed Biannuci’s thoughts: “In many cases, that’s what women have been trained to do, compete against one another,” she said. “My position has always been why are we fighting over one seat when there’s 15 seats?”

But, the times, as Bob Dylan said, they are a changin’. In speaking with four women in banking the words I heard again and again were: mentor, support, train. Women are recognizing that there is power in numbers, that pulling out the chair next to you does not mean giving up your own seat.

But first, why women anyway? What are women bringing to the table that is essential to bank growth and prosperity? In a March interview with NPR, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, told reporter Steve Inskeep, “If you look at how banks which have women on the board, have women in their executive teams, are managed — in terms of risk profile, you see those institutions are better. They are less risky. Their profile is better. They are safer for investors … although it’s not causality, it’s correlation.”

 

Read the full BankNews article here. 

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