The topic of gender equality in the financial services industry is permeating every department from HR to the board level, marketing division and business strategy teams. As such, in North America, more than 90 percent of financial-services companies have made commitments to gender diversity, according to a recent survey by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey.
One of these companies is Ameriprise Financial, a leading diversified financial services company that has committed to fostering an inclusive culture and providing opportunities for every person in the company to build a rewarding career. As part of its diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy, it is the company’s vision to become the firm of choice for women in financial services.
From the business perspective, this commitment makes clear business sense when countless evidence shows that companies with greater gender diversity, such as Ameriprise Financial, perform better.
Organizations with diverse teams develop more innovative ideas. Diverse teams are more likely to have common experiences with their customers and a rounded view of their end-users, thus creating better-suited products. This is particularly important in financial services, considering more than half of women control the household finances, savings and investing.
A gender-equal workforce also signals an attractive work environment for talent. 67 percent of job seekers look at workforce diversity when evaluating an offer, according to a survey from Glassdoor. Top female candidates, in particular, care about gender diverse work environments. Clearly, when it comes to the war on talent, the most talented individuals go to places that focus on diversity, and this becomes a driving factor for diverse organisations to outperform their peers.
But despite the commitments from many financial institutes there is still work to do. Whereas over half of the entry-level recruits in the industry are female, at the C-Suite level, women still represent fewer than one in five positions in the financial sector. This is slightly lower than the 22 percent average for US women overall.
So, to tackle the disparity, Ameriprise Financial has several initiatives in place to advance gender equality at the firm. Recruiting, retaining and developing women continues to be an important part of their diversity and inclusion strategy.
One of these is a commitment to build inclusive leadership skills by having the Ameriprise executive leadership team, employees, leaders and advisors complete unconscious bias training. There is also a mentoring and role modeling program across the company to support formal and informal network programs.
Similarly, the Women's Interest Network (WIN) is a business resource network for Ameriprise Financial employees to promote professional development by providing mentorship and leadership opportunities and insight into women's perspectives. It’s here that female leaders in a business unit can create an informal network where they connect to share ideas on best practices.
Bobbie Hageman, Vice President Experienced Advisor Transitions and Acquisition Program Management, has taken part in these initiatives and says. “They allowed me to meet amazing people that I could support through my experiences, but I could also learn from. I still keep in touch with them, even after the formal meetings and programs have concluded.”
On the kinds of advice she passes down to young mentees at these leadership networks, she says, “Be fearless. You can be scared, nervous or anxious but don’t let that hold you back. Get to know yourself and what energises you and focus on that. Sometimes for people, the next level equals a band level or title but when they dig deep they find they are looking for something more tangible. When you discover that, go after it. The band level and title will come when you are motivated and at your best.”
Positive and valued
Ameriprise Financial’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. In January 2021, Ameriprise was included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (BGEI) for the second consecutive year. The BGEI investment index debuted in 2017 and aims to track the performance of public companies that share gender reporting and offer best-in-class policies and practices supporting women in the workforce. The company performed well across GEI’s five pillars: female leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture, sexual harassment policies and pro-women brand.
A career at Ameriprise is for those who want to want to feel their talent is respected, want to help other people and leave clients feeling positive and valued. This approach is twofold: what works for the employees is clearly working for the Ameriprise business and brand.
If you want to join a company where leaders, employees and advisors take gender equality seriously and who will help you expand your career, provide mentorship, leadership skills and offer new credentials, the Ameriprise Careers Page is a great place to look.