[Part 2] How are brands celebrating International Women’s Day? Year-long programs
In part two of our three-part series on International Women’s Day (IWD), our analysts take a look at how brands in the financial sector and beyond have been supporting women in the workforce via campaigns for positive change.
Launching year-long programs
Financial services, for multiple years now, have focused on supporting women in business and showcasing their emphasis on opportunities for women within their institutional culture. Given that women-owned businesses now represent more than 40% of all businesses in the US, generating revenue of $1.9 trillion, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and Bank of America, among others, have undertaken commendable initiatives over time to support this growing force of fem-preneurs. We hope to see such global and local initiatives continue.
For example, Visa’s Ready to Return conference encouraged those who hit a pause in their careers with a short-term stint to refresh their experiences and skill sets. American Express in 2016 initiated the Shadow program to reduce the gap at the top of the corporate ladder and take risks by mentoring talented female executives with responsibilities that they might not have exposure to in their current role. This happens under the mentorship of senior leaders and has earned American Express many accolades as a promoter of opportunities for women. PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has a phase-back policy, in which parents work 60% of the time for a month but get full-time pay, even after paid leave is used up. This has been instrumental in addressing a pain point for parents where the other option may have been to leave the workforce altogether.
What We Think
There are many underlying issues that plague the success of women in their careers, such as child-care and gap years’ skill/network loss—all contributing to challenges of getting back to work after natural life decisions. Financial services can continue to step up, walk-the-talk, and lead the way for cultural changes that address these pain points. Being bold in initiating conversations and corporate culture transformations will surely distinguish the message around Women’s Day versus just another campaign showcasing a handful of success stories.