Can Diane Garnick Make Wall Street A Better Place For Women?

Taken from here.

According to a new article from Bloomberg Businessweek, Diane Garnick, a former investment strategist at Invesco Ltd., is opening an asset management firm today that she hopes will help tilt the balance of the top Wall Street jobs more in favor of women. “One of the biggest challenges is for women to find an organization that’s willing to accept them back after they leave the work force to raise children without taking a cut in compensation and responsibility,” the former Merrill Lynch derivatives strategist said in the interview. “Our objective is to solve that problem.”

The new firm will be called Clear Alternatives. Right now she has a staff of three other women besides herself but she hopes to get that number up to 12 by the end of the year. Garnick said she also wants to help more women graduates from the best business schools go on to senior management roles in financial services.

In the U.S., women account for only 2.7% of the chief executives in the financial industry, and 16.8% of the executive officers, according to a study by Catalyst. Approximately 141,000 women or 2.6% have left Wall Street in the last ten years. To give you some context, 9.6% or 389,000 men have started working in finance in the same period. Now, they didn’t all leave because they went off to have babies and then had trouble getting back into the Wall Street game, but for some of them, that did happen. Wall Street is already a very difficult industry for women to succeed in, mostly because they are still the minority and the environment works against them. All women face career issues when they have families, but the financial industry is one of the toughest. As some major female figures have left Wall Street recently, such as Sallie Krawcheck, Garnick’s firm sounds like a beacon of light.

Not that other firms aren’t trying to help women get back into the workforce. Now in its fourth year, the Goldman Sachs Returnship program helps women get back into their careers with training internships. Canadian bank BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. recently launched an award for women looking to re-establish their careers. In addition to a $5,000 grant toward an education program and access to a mentor, the award offers women a three-month internship at the bank. ”It’s the same catch-22 when you get out of school: You can’t get a job without a current reference and you can’t get a current reference without a job,” said Martha Fell, chief executive officer of Women in Capital Markets, a Toronto-based not-for-profit group dedicated to promoting the entry, advancement and development of women in the industry. “Someone needs to take the risk in hiring you, believing in you and giving you a chance.” And Garnick is going to take that chance.

Featured photo: Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/

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