Making Advancements In Gender Diversity And Equality Across The Financial Services Industry | Finance Leaders Fellows Q&A 252

Making Advancements In Gender Diversity And Equality Across The Financial Services Industry | Finance Leaders Fellows Q&A

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In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Kara Gustafson, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute's Finance Leaders Fellowship (FLF), sat down with four FLF Fellows who are making advancements in gender diversity and equality across the financial services industry.

From helping women to successfully launch their own businesses through mentorship programs, to address the gender imbalance in investment by attracting more women to investment careers, and getting women to access to banking in Panama - these four women are working to move the needle on the traditionally male-dominated financial industry. Here's a Q&A with these four Fellows on their ventures and impact (pictured above from left to right):
  • Tilly Franklin, Chief Investment Officer, Cambridge University Endowment Fund, Class II, Finance Leaders Fellowship
  • June Kim, Director, Global Equity, CalSTRS, Class IV, Finance Leaders Fellowship
  • Aimee Thalia Sentmat de Grimaldo, President & General Manager, Banistmo, S.A., Class II, Finance Leaders Fellowship
  • Sarah Friar, CEO, Nextdoor, Class I, Finance Leaders Fellowship


Kara: Tell us about your venture. What’s the impact you’re seeking?

Sarah Friar: Ladies Who Launch (LWL) exists to provide accessible capital opportunities for women entrepreneurs and actionable educational resources and mentorship to help women business owners navigate through the highs and lows of building a sustainable business. LWL impacts women globally by helping them launch their business and keeping more women in business through our educational programs and resources.

Tilly Franklin: Girls are INvestors (GAIN) is addressing the gender imbalance in UK investment management by informing and inspiring young women about the many attractions of investment careers. GAIN has reached over 5,000 young women with talks and panel events, delivered by our network of female investors. GAIN also recently placed 25 students for summer work experience at leading UK investment firms during Summer 2021.

June Kim: The impact I hope my venture has is to increase the number of women in leadership positions in the investment industry and ultimately, to achieve gender parity throughout the industry. Having a more diverse group of leaders would help accelerate further diversification of the entire industry, which should result in better decision-making and a better investment industry overall.

Aimee Thalia Sentmat de Grimaldo: As of December of last year, we have grown 72% on commercial loans to women-led businesses and we have already disbursed USD 32 million under the First Social Bond issued in Latin America for USD 50mln with the Bid Invest.

Note: Through her venture Impulsa Mujer, Aimee is focusing on women-specific financial needs like mentoring for new businesses, financial education, and future planning to help address the gender gap in Panama. These efforts will help increase women’s participation in the formal economy while fostering gender equality.

Kara: What inspired you to launch your Venture to focus on advancing the economic empowerment of women and girls in the industry?

Sarah Friar: What inspired me was my original work at Square, and now at Nextdoor, where it's clear that female entrepreneurs are not on a level playing field with their male counterparts and need support. What has motivated us to keep going are the thousands of women that have shared their journeys launching their businesses.

Aimee Thalia Sentmat de Grimaldo: Being the only woman leading a systemic bank in Panama I felt responsible to understand the women’s situation in Panama with respect to access to credit. The numbers show me the big difference between women and men and that inspired me to work on a venture to promote access to banking services and products to women-led businesses.

Kara: What is one piece of advice you’d give to other leaders, as they think about the role that both men and women play in taking action around gender equity?

Tilly Franklin: Where women are under-represented in a profession or industry, there’s a tendency to shrug and make excuses, like ‘it’s really hard to find qualified female candidates.’ Leaders – male and female – need to ask themselves why this is the case. What can the industry do to reach young women, to present an accessible face, and to provide them with the information and opportunities? If young women aren’t excited, it is likely the industry’s responsibility, not theirs.

June Kim: The investment industry is underutilizing the experience and potential contributions of half the population by not having more women in the field and in leadership. It is a suboptimal allocation of talent for the industry and also for the economy and society.

Aimee Thalia Sentmat de Grimaldo: My one piece of advice would be that gender equality is a responsibility of all of us, it is not only a women’s matter but a societal issue. The pandemic has exacerbated the pre-existing gaps and we all need to work together to achieve a more inclusive economy.

About the Finance Leaders Fellowship

The Aspen Institute's Finance Leaders Fellowship develops a community of enlightened leaders to chart the course of the global finance industry. Fellows strengthen their companies' cultures, look for ways to improve system stability, and innovate to ensure global financial inclusion.
Blog Finance Leaders Fellowship 03/25/2021 2:16pm EDT

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In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Kara Gustafson , Executive Director of the Aspen Institute's Finance Leaders Fellowship (FLF), sat down with four FLF Fellows who are making advancements in gender diversity and equality across the financial services industry. From helping women to successfully launch their own ...

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