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Breaking Ceilings and Closing Gaps: Effecting Change for Women

March 28, 2019 12:00 AM

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Women's History Month is an important time to reflect on the women who have paved the way for us, especially in business. As we learn from the powerful women of our past, it is also critical that we look towards empowering more women for the future. 

The department's "Investing in Women" initiative will do just that – work to empower women through greater financial aptitude and advocate for more qualified, diverse leadership. 

A higher share of women on bank supervisory boards was associated with greater banking sector stability according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, only 20 percent of bank board members were female and less than 2 percent had women CEOs or presidents.

The study enumerated four specific reasons why a higher share of women on bank and supervisory boards is beneficial to business:

  1. Women may be better risk managers than men.
  2. Discriminatory hiring practices may mean that the few women who do make it to the executive level are exceptionally well qualified.
  3. More women in executive positions contributes to diversity of thought.
  4. Institutions that tend to attract and select female executives may be better managed in the first place. 

To see where Pennsylvania stands, our department looked at publicly available information for Pennsylvania financial institutions. We found 18 percent of board seats were held by women at the 36 largest financial companies headquartered in Pennsylvania (based on market cap). Compared to the global average of 20 percent, there is certainly room to improve.

As part of the "Investing in Women" platform, I will work collaboratively with private and public entities to help ensure Pennsylvania becomes a leader in gender diverse leadership. These partnerships can work together to raise awareness, help place more women on boards, encourage women-friendly workplace policies, and create positive cultures that support women.  I also want to spark greater interest among women in pursuing careers in finance. Bolstering this career pipeline allows for greater opportunities to promote women up the career ladder and move Pennsylvania towards closing the gap. 

The gap between women and men is not exclusive to leadership. Data also shows that there is an identified, research-supported financial capability gap between men and women. The department will use existing statistics and our own commonwealth-specific survey to identify what the financial capability landscape looks like in Pennsylvania. These findings will allow us to create a training program that will help raise awareness, identify challenges, and provide potential policy solutions to closing this gap. Our goal is to have this training available by the end of 2019.

"Investing in Women" intends to raise awareness of the gender gap in finance and effectuate change within the industry. 

As Women's History Month comes to a close, let us together look to our future, and the future of all women. I urge you to consider what you can do to effect change for the women who work with and for you. Together we can help women climb ladders, break ceilings, and close the existing financial gap in Pennsylvania.

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