WE Family Offices CEO Mel Lagomasino recently participated in a panel discussion about women in the finance industry at the Bloomberg Business of Equality Summit in New York City. Reflecting on her decades in the business, she shared her observations on the progress that’s been made toward equality between men and women in the workplace – and shared her hopes for continued progress in the future.
Speaking first, Lagomasino cut right to the issue and described a scenario that is common across many industries, including the banking and investment industry. “Over the last 20 years, most of the financial services companies have been focused on trying to get more women in the workforce,” she said. “But from the statistics I have seen and from my time in the business, we would hire about 50/50 men to women, but as we went up the pyramid, we would start losing the women. By the time you get to the top, it got very narrow and the pipeline was very thin.”
Bloomberg Moderator Laura Zelenko echoed her point, sharing the statistic that “50 percent of the workforce that makes up the S&P 500 is female, but by the time you get to the CEO level, it shrinks to less than 10 percent.”
While the panel spent some time addressing the challenges around achieving equality, they also discussed the progress made and their hopes for the future. Lagomasino pointed out that over the coming decades, a large amount of wealth will be transferred to the next generation, but also to women whose husbands pass before them.
“The power of the purse is going to be with women. When women are all of a sudden taking charge of their own finances, they want to align what they are investing in to their values,” said Lagomasino. This includes asking questions about the number of women on the board, the number of women in the C-suite and programs in place to support equality. “They are deciding where to put their money depending on where they see the best practices,” said Lagomasino.
“With this huge transfer, I think the amount of emphasis and demand for companies that are doing right on these issues of equality is only going to increase,” Lagomasino concluded.
To watch the full panel discussion, see the video here.