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Bank of America may owe some of its success to having a large female workforce. More than half of its nearly 250,000 employees are women, nearly half (49%) of its managers are women, and, most strikingly, six out of its 15-member executive management team are women, the highest proportion among the 10 biggest financial institutions in the United States. The company also routinely ranks among Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies for Women and Best Companies for Women’s Advancement.
More than half of its nearly 250,000 employees are women, nearly half (49%) of its managers are women, and, most strikingly, six out of its 15-member executive management team are women, the highest proportion among the 10 biggest financial institutions in the United States.
The bank supports women through several different channels, including Bank of America’s LEAD for Women, an employee resource group for women that is dedicated to promoting women’s professional development. In addition, structured mentoring programs for women exist in most departments, with some aimed at middle managers and others targeting women at all levels.
The company also sponsors, in conjunction with Columbia University, “Greater Returns: Accelerating Your Career,” a two-day seminar for high-potential women within Bank of America. But the most important factor in creating an environment in which talented women can excel and propel their careers to the top is the commitment of CEO Brian Moynihan.
Research from Catalyst and McKinsey shows that companies with significant numbers of women in management have a much higher return on investment than those that swath their smart women in metaphoric burkas. A study published in October 2008 by CERAM Business School found that firms in the CAC40 (the French equivalent of the Dow Jones Industrial Average) with a high ratio of women in top management showed better resistance to the financial crisis. The fewer female managers a company had, researchers found, the greater drop in its share price since January 2008.
A London Business School study found that when work teams are split 50-50 between men and women, productivity goes up. Gender balance, the research argues, counters groupthink – the tendency of homogenous groups to staunchly defend wrong-headed ideas because everyone in the group thinks the same way. This conclusion is supported by the work of professors Anita Woolley and Thomas Malone, whose recent survey (published in the Harvard Business Review) demonstrates that teams that include more women post higher collective intelligence.