The top groups of influential operating teams that oversee the six biggest US banks are dominated by men. Women make up a third or less of those groups inside all of them except JPMorgan Chase, where the gender split is even. In total, there are two men for every woman who sit in those powerful Wall Street
One of those women, Catherine Bessant, the top technology executive at Bank of America Corp., called the promotion “great news for the firm, and for women everywhere,” on Twitter, writing that it was “a big and fantastic moment.”
Last year, when a group of White, male bank bosses testified before a House committee, Representative Al Green asked if they thought their successors would look any different than them. None raised a hand.
Green was encouraged by the news of Fraser’s appointment. “This was something that uplifted my spirits, knowing that there is still progress being made,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “Notwithstanding the fact that not enough progress had been made.” All of the top bank CEOs will still be White.
“Jane’s appointment was the result of many years of investment for Citi,” said Lorraine Hariton, the CEO of Catalyst, a group that advocates for women in leadership. “It’s not just something you wake up and do overnight.”
With Fraser’s appointment to CEO, the 16-member Citigroup
board, already the most gender diverse among S&P 500 banks, will become the only bank board that is evenly split by gender, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The nominating and governance committee, which plays a key role in selecting the CEO, is also chaired by a woman.
There are 31 women who already lead S&P 500 companies, according to Catalyst. Having a woman heading up such a large bank will open up opportunities for others in the field, said Dina Powell, a former official in President Donald Trump’s administration who’s now a Goldman partner. “Her success and leadership will pave the way for women in finance,” she said. “A significant milestone. She has always tried to lift and empower women around her.”
Betsy Duke, who was one of the most powerful women on Wall Street before she stepped down as the head of Wells Fargo & Co.’s board this year, said Citigroup’s new boss “is the right woman at the right time, and Citi is the right company for her.”
Zehner, who’s now an investor, left Goldman more than a decade and a half ago and has seen change come glacially inside the big American banks.