The State of Women in Cap­i­tal Mar­kets

Rotman Management Magazine - - FROM THE EDITOR - Jen­nifer Reynolds is Pres­i­dent and CEO of Women in Cap­i­tal Mar­kets. Pre­vi­ously, she spent 15 years work­ing in the cap­i­tal mar­kets in­dus­try, pri­mar­ily in in­vest­ment bank­ing, hold­ing se­nior roles with BMO Cap­i­tal Mar­kets and Stonecap Se­cu­ri­ties, and in the

Karen Chris­tensen: Your job en­tails ad­vo­cat­ing for the im­por­tance of gen­der di­ver­sity to the Canadian econ­omy. How would you sum­ma­rize your ar­gu­ment?

Jen­nifer Reynolds: If you want to have a com­pet­i­tive edge, it just makes sense to use the whole tal­ent pool. How can you pos­si­bly think you’ve got the best tal­ent, if 50 per cent of the tal­ent pool is ab­sent from your lead­er­ship team? In Canada, 62 per cent of univer­sity grad­u­ates to­day are women, so for those who dis­qual­ify women, the lead­er­ship pool is ac­tu­ally shrink­ing.

Most of your ca­reer was spent in in­vest­ment bank­ing. What key lessons did you learn about ex­celling in this en­vi­ron­ment?

At the end of the day, it’s about be­ing able to take in a huge amount of in­for­ma­tion and rec­og­nize what’s im­por­tant, and be able to dis­till that down into an analysis or ar­gu­ment. Also, the more se­nior you get, you’ve got to be a great re­la­tion­ship-builder. Cer­tainly, be­ing the only woman in the room pre­sents chal­lenges. When you’re more ju­nior, the dif­fer­ences aren’t as sig­nif­i­cant, be­cause you’re de­liv­er­ing a more tech­ni­cal end-prod­uct; but as you be­come more se­nior, the things you are be­ing judged on be­come more sub­jec­tive, so bi­ases come into the pic­ture.

Do you see enough or­ga­ni­za­tions mov­ing be­yond ‘lip ser­vice’ and im­ple­ment­ing di­ver­sity ini­tia­tives?

The big banks are lead­ing the way in terms of the pro­grams they have in place—although their cap­i­tal mar­kets ar­eas are not as ad­vanced as the rest of the banks. But I do be­lieve that most big­ger com­pa­nies are think­ing about this. When you look broadly at Canada, close to 75 per cent of our com­pa­nies have a mar­ket cap of less than one bil­lion. We are an econ­omy of smaller com­pa­nies, so it can’t just be the big com­pa­nies and banks do­ing this: We need the broader econ­omy to think about why they don’t have more gen­der di­ver­sity and how to ad­dress that.

I’m pleased to say that there is a very good level of aware­ness of this is­sue at the se­nior lev­els of our banks. Once you have that buy-in, the harder work needs to be done. The tough­est nut to crack is the ‘frozen mid­dle’, as I call it—all of those lay­ers be­low se­nior ex­ec­u­tives—and convincing them that this is re­ally im­por­tant. That takes time, be­cause it en­tails a cul­ture shift.

What should ev­ery com­pany be do­ing to build a strong pipe­line of fe­male tal­ent?

First, when­ever you’re hir­ing at ju­nior lev­els, you should be in­ten­tional about reach­ing out specifically to women. Of­ten, when women see a job post­ing in the cap­i­tal mar­kets or in a re­source sec­tor, they as­sume it’s male dom­i­nated, and they think, ‘That’s prob­a­bly not for me’. Com­pa­nies need to con­vince young women that they are look­ing for peo­ple like them. You also have to be re­ally dili­gent about hav­ing tar­gets. I’m not talk­ing about quo­tas, but you do need to have goals—like, ‘We are go­ing to hire 50/50 men and women this year’—and make sure that you’ve tasked peo­ple with find­ing the ré­sumés re­quired to make that hap­pen.

From what I’ve seen, most cap­i­tal mar­kets firms are now try­ing to hire 50/50. They are mak­ing sure that they’re reach­ing out to women at dif­fer­ent uni­ver­si­ties, and they’re suc­ceed­ing in find­ing some re­ally tal­ented young pro­fes­sion­als.

You have talked about the im­por­tance of build­ing a cul­ture that val­ues di­ver­sity of thought. What does such a cul­ture look like?

We need to be more in­no­va­tive in all in­dus­tries, not just in tech­nol­ogy. And in or­der to do that, you need di­ver­sity of thought. If you’re con­stantly go­ing back to the same pool of peo­ple with sim­i­lar re­sources and back­grounds, you’re never go­ing to get that. To

achieve it, you need gen­der di­ver­sity, eth­nic di­ver­sity, and cul­tural di­ver­sity on your teams.

We of­ten talk about ‘fit’ when we hire peo­ple, and that can be a dan­ger­ous thing, be­cause it of­ten means, ‘Let’s go and hire the same per­son we hired last time.’ What fit should mean is that you are think­ing about all the dif­fer­ent pieces of a puz­zle, and putting them to­gether to form a great team. To make ananal­ogy, the pieces of a puz­zle look very dif­fer­ent, but when they are put to­gether, it makes for an op­ti­mal end re­sult. I chal­lenge peo­ple to think about it that way.

Tell us about your Re­turn to Bay Street Pro­gram.

That is one of the things I’m most proud of. We’ve been do­ing this for six years now. The premise was, in our in­dus­try—as in many in­dus­tries—we need more women at the mid-level. If women have taken a few years off to de­vote to fam­ily, first of all, do they want to come back? And se­condly, can they do it? If so, how can we make it work from a busi­ness per­spec­tive? We don’t want to have them come back and start all over at the bot­tom of the lad­der, we want them to come back in some com­men­su­rate role and get them back into the tal­ent pipe­line.

We started this pro­gram with BMO Cap­i­tal Mar­kets and since then, we’ve had 34 women go through it. We now have seven in­sti­tu­tions in­volved, be­cause BMO’S com­peti­tors saw that this was a great pro­gram for bring­ing back in­cred­i­bly tal­ented woman who had 10 to 15 years of ex­pe­ri­ence. The key to the pro­gram is, you’re not go­ing to lose that 10 or 15 years of valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence. The pro­gram hasn’t been led by HR. No of­fence to HR, but you need se­nior busi­ness peo­ple to buy into this, and view it as a pool of tal­ent that they wouldn’t have had ac­cess to with­out this type of a pro­gram.

I get calls reg­u­larly, not just from fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, ask­ing about how peo­ple can do this in their in­dus­try. I re­ally think this type of pro­gram should be in ev­ery or­ga­ni­za­tion, as part of the tal­ent man­age­ment pro­gram. I’m also a big pro­po­nent that men need to be able to take pa­ter­nity leave — and that the stigma around that needs to go away. Once it does, I think women’s prob­lems will, to a great de­gree, get solved too, be­cause fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties will be built into the fab­ric of a cor­po­rate cul­ture. Af­ter all, this is some­thing both women and men deal with. We have to find ways to en­able them to be great at work and great at home.

Look­ing ahead, what is the key ob­sta­cle in the way of gen­der equal­ity?

If you ask some­one to close their eyes and pic­ture a CEO, chances are that 99 per cent of peo­ple will pic­ture a man. We have to chal­lenge those bi­ases and re­ally think about how they are seep­ing into the so-called mer­i­toc­racy. As in­di­cated, chal­leng­ing tra­di­tional roles and bi­ases, and putting re­sources be­hind things like pa­ter­nity leave is also crit­i­cal, be­cause it’s about start­ing to do things dif­fer­ently — and to think dif­fer­ently about fam­ily and work re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. We need to be in­no­va­tive about that, as well.

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