Investing Leadership

Women in Banking: Bro Talk Must Go; Wells Fargo’s Tolstedt to Retire

americanbanker.comWar of words: Bro talk hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention as one of the reasons that female leaders are lacking in the financial services industry, writes Sam Polk, a former hedge fund trader, in a New York Times op-ed. Most of the sexism in the workplace happens when women aren’t in the room, and it often comes from bosses in a form of male bonding that is not only culturally accepted, but in fact expected – “bro talk.” The way women are “casually torn apart in conversation” creates “a force field of disrespect and exclusion” that makes it hard for them to advance, argues Polk, who used to work for Bank of America. Little has changed over the years, despite formal company initiatives like women’s leadership summits. What’s needed, he says, is much simpler: men speaking up and challenging the norms in everyday situations, no matter how uncomfortable it is to do so. Polk makes an eloquent case that is really worth reading.

Bro’s Club? What Bro’s Club?: Bank of America has responded to a gender-bias suit filed by managing director Megan Messina, who claims her male supervisor made it clear she wasn’t welcome in his bro’s club and consistently excluded her from e-mails and meetings with the 10 men he oversaw. B of A said that no bro’s club exists and that this inflammatory term was never used by Messina’s supervisor or other managers.

Come Back: Barclays is offering a paid internship for once-high-performing midcareer bankers who left the industry for whatever reason, but want to return. The program helps participants brush up on their skills and re-establish their networks. Barbara Byrne, vice chairman of investment banking, says the program helps solve one of the industry’s biggest problems: how to recruit the best bankers — particularly women — for an executive career track. “If you come here and you join with us after taking some time off, you’re going to stay,” says Byrne, who is in our “Most Powerful Women” ranking. “We want people who you can invest in and stay with us, who form relationships.”

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