Citigroup's gender gap a new risk factor


The American Banker criticized Citigroup for what it sees as a rank failure to promote more women to top executive positions.

"Male dominance is an age-old feature of big banks' executive suites, but it appears to be particularly acute at Citigroup, which now counts only one woman among its 24-member operating committee."

The executive shuffling just recently by new CEO Michael Corbat struck some as a good opportunity to promote women. But it didn't turn out that way. As such, the bank may have opened itself up to new risks.

It "could lead to another round of unflattering scrutiny at Citigroup, which has spent the past five years trying to edge out of the spotlight. It is also the latest example of a persistent industry-wide trend that critics argue hurts more than just banks' reputations. Companies lacking boardroom and executive-suite diversity tend to underperform and expose themselves to operational risks."

My sense is that the new CEO deserves some time to put his stamp on the company longer term. As of right now, his hand has been forced by events in some respects. I can only hope the situation changes over the course of his CEO-ship.

 In the meantime, the pressure will be high on Cece Stewart, the president of U.S. consumer and commercial banking, the highest ranking woman at the bank and the only woman on the operating committee. Her job just got that much harder, as she will be expected, fairly or not, to take up the cause on behalf of other women. That's a full-time job in and of itself. 

I wish her well in both of her capacities. The bottom line however is that to get more women to the top, we need more women in the trenches, which doesn't seem to be materializing.

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