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As Citi taps Fraser, Wall Street's poor record on diversity is put in focus

Stock MarketsSep 10, 2020 09:31PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. Citigroup Latin America CEO Fraser addresses Brazil-U.S. Business forum 2/2

By Jessica DiNapoli

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc's (N:C) appointment of Jane Fraser as its next chief executive on Thursday was celebrated on Wall Street as the first woman to lead one of the top U.S. banks. Yet this is a glass ceiling that corporate America shattered decades ago.

It was 1972 when the Washington Post, then a Fortune 500 company, named Katherine Graham (NYSE:GHM) as its CEO. While progress for female leaders has been slow, 36 of the Fortune 500 companies are now run by women, including automaker General Motors Co (N:GM), chocolate maker Hershey Co (N:HSY) and Northrop Grumman Corp (N:NOC), according to corporate governance services firm BoardEx.

But the male-dominated financial services industry has fared poorly. Even beyond the major banks, only four of the 200 largest public U.S. financial services companies - Synchrony Financial (N:SYF), Franklin Resources Inc (N:BEN), Nasdaq Inc (O:NDAQ) and CIT Group Inc (N:CIT) - have female CEOs, according to BoardEx.

Women are also underrepresented in CEO roles at financial firms when smaller companies are included. Of the 551 financial companies in the Russell 3000 index, 19, or 3.4%, are led by a woman, compared to 5.4% when counting all Russell 3000 companies, according to The Conference Board, a non-profit representing corporations, and Esgauge, a data-mining firm.

The only sector with a lower representation of women as CEOs is real estate, where there are five female chief executives out of 196 companies, according to The Conference Board and Esgauge.

"These are really positions that women have not pursued because of the work-life balance. We have seen years and years of struggle for women who have to choose," said Charlotte Laurent-Ottomane, executive director of the Thirty Percent Coalition, which encourages diversity in corporate boardrooms.

CEO candidates typically come from roles in finance, operations or running a business line, where there are few women leaders, according to a study from accounting and consulting firm Deloitte.

Women have higher representation in roles that historically have not been heavily recruited for the top job, such as in legal or human resources departments, according to the study.

Fraser, 53, has been a rising star in the financial industry, with a career that spans investment banking, wealth management, troubled mortgage workouts and strategy in Latin America – a key business for Citigroup. She was being groomed for the top job after she was elevated to Citigroup president last year.

Among the Citigroup board directors who tapped Fraser as CEO, eight of 17 are women, compared to about a quarter at most other U.S. banks.

As Citi taps Fraser, Wall Street's poor record on diversity is put in focus
 

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Comments (4)
Abu Hamzah Baharuddin
Abu Hamzah Baharuddin Sep 10, 2020 9:45PM ET
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smartest people (IQ 120 and above) are mostly men but they want at least 50% of the CEOs to be women. If almost half of the top jobs held by women it means something wrong with the system, most likely it’s not based on merit.
John Rithby
John Rithby Sep 10, 2020 9:45PM ET
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No one handed you a mensa membership did they? Perhaps you should try leaving the burkhas off when you measure people’s IQs next time.
malad malad
malad malad Sep 10, 2020 6:44PM ET
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Let’s go im going to short Citigroup after this news
Leo James
Leo James Sep 10, 2020 6:44PM ET
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hello
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Sep 10, 2020 4:28PM ET
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'The male-dominated financial services industry has fared poorly.' .. one wonders why because women are among the sharpest minds, very good with numbers and patient investors. Must be the old boys' network still trying to pull the wool over peoples' eyes like it was with Anadarko, it's top engineer, Oxy Petroleum and its investors. The truth is that women slightly achievers have superior education and juggle way more heavy duty roles than the average male, including elder care, family cook, child rearing and all while juggling the notoriously weak male ego of their peers and that of the average husband.
John Rithby
John Rithby Sep 10, 2020 4:28PM ET
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eddie glass Sexist against whom? Is your little while male ego hurt? Might be good to turn off Faux News and the rest of the little wang club.
eddie glass
eddie glass Sep 10, 2020 3:54PM ET
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As soon as women stop taking 3-12 months paid time off work any random time they want to pop out a baby, I'm all for it.
John Rithby
John Rithby Sep 10, 2020 3:54PM ET
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It’s not like women pop out a baby by themselves. The more dimw*ts like you stay out of the gene pool, the lesser vacation they will need to take.
 
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