This year’s New England Women in Banking Conference, once again hosted by Strategic Information Resources, is officially underway at the Hotel Viking & Cambria Hotel in Newport, RI. Now in its 7th year, the conference focuses on the achievements of women from the financial service industries, and how women can be architects of change within the field.
Maureen Devine, President of Strategic Information Resources, sees evidence of this change every day- “Women bring a different perspective to the table,” says Devine, “I think there’s a level of empathy that women can add to the conversation, and there are tremendous benefits that a diverse group can add to the collaborative nature of the workplace.”
The push for more female representation in the industry has made headway in the past decade, but the movement is far from over. According to a recent survey of some of the nation’s largest banks, women account for just over 20% of all board directors, a percentage which has been practically stagnant since 2016.
“We’ve seen an increase in female representation across our industry, but not by a lot. Although many women are climbing the organizational ranks, It’s still very uncommon to see women in C-suite positions.”, says Devine.
This year’s conference is celebrating women who have made an impact in these positions, featuring special keynote appearances by Ellen Ford, President & CEO of Peoples’ Credit Union, and Karen Higgins-Carter, EVP and CIO of Webster Bank. Other speakers include Dr. Temple Grandin, a champion for autistic individuals and the subject of an award winning HBO film, as well as Maysoon Zayid, a Palestinian-American comedian from New Jersey who has cerebral palsy.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity to come together and support one another, and to appreciate the strength and courage of women in our industry”, says Devine, “These speakers help to convey the message that we all have the ability to overcome our own personal challenges, regardless of our background.”
Devine also notes that, in addition to promoting ethnic and gender diversity, it’s important to embrace generational differences as well. In today’s banking industry we’re seeing the convergence of baby boomers, gen X, and millennials- all in the workplace together. Learning how to communicate across generations helps us towards achieving the common goal.
As for the future for women in the financial services industry, Devine has a few words of advice: “Regardless of who we are, we need to focus on being a team player. My challenge for women in the financial service industries is to advocate for each other, and never to feel threatened by others. Don’t be afraid to get uncomfortable and work with the diversity around you.”
Keynote sessions for the Women in Banking Conference will kick off Friday morning at 7:30 in the ballroom of Newport’s Hotel Cambria.