Leading the way: Women on Wall Street
From the arts to social change, women are offering new perspectives and leading the way in creating a more inclusive and vibrant society. And Deutsche Bank’s Women on Wall Street® conference has set the agenda for women in the financial industry for 20 years now.
Over the past 20 years, women have achieved dramatic improvements in economic, political and social status. Through politics, civic engagement, economic advancement and educational attainment, women are participating more and exerting greater influence. Women run countries. Angela Merkel has been Chancellor of Germany since 2005, and Argentina, Brazil and Chile all have female presidents. Christine Lagarde was the first female finance minister of a major global economy and now holds one of the most important positions in global finance as the head of the IMF. Janet Yellen is the first female chair of the US Federal Reserve. These examples of female leadership are a sign of progress, yet the global picture tells a less encouraging story. According to the United Nations, women perform two-thirds of the world’s work. They produce half of the world’s food. But they earn 10% of the income and own just 1% of the property. Markets still do not work for all women. Though governments have made significant positive commitments to women’s rights, opportunities and leadership, roadblocks to greater achievement and attainment remain in place. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that it could take until 2056 to reach pay parity in the US, which is when women starting their careers today will be ready for retirement. Globally, 24% of senior management positions are filled by women. Fewer than 5% of CEOs in the US are female (Catalyst, 2014).
The WOWS factor
Deutsche Bank’s Women on Wall Street® conference – or WOWS, as it’s known – is the premier event for women working in finance. Every year, more than 2,000 people from all parts of the industry meet for inspirational, thought-provoking conversations on topics of relevance to women’s careers. Inside the vast conference room at the event venue, it’s hard to imagine a time before WOWS. Yet as co-founder Mona Lau recalls, WOWS had to carve out a niche in a landscape in which diversity was not prominent. “There were no real opportunities for women to meet senior role models and to network with women and clients across the industry. This was why we created WOWS,” she says. Two decades later, WOWS remains relevant. The founding idea and spirit – to inspire and motivate women to achieve goals for themselves and for the bank – have helped to shape the career paths of thousands of women. This years milestone event celebrated the community of professional women that WOWS has built over the past 20 years. The theme, “Collective Wisdom”, honoured the experiences, stories and words of advice shared during this time and recognised women’s contributions to complex economic, social and educational issues. For the first time ever, the event was made available via webcast to Bank employees across the region.
There are now Deutsche Bank-sponsored conferences for women in Frankfurt, London, Milan, Singapore and Sydney that trace their roots back to WOWS. The Women in Asian Business Conference was introduced in 2011 and has attracted more than 1,200 people representing over 200 organizations since then. The theme of this year’s conference, held in September in Singapore, was “Leading with Inclusion”.
The first WOWS conference took place in 1995, and provided the model for every event since. From the beginning, the WOWS team decided to open the conference to the rest of Wall Street. The caliber of speakers has been central to the appeal of WOWS. Year after year, influential women who have led the way in their industries have shared their experiences and advice on how to cultivate career success.
“I feel a responsibility to help other women, as my path has been made easier by those who came before me.”
“It is with immense pride that Deutsche Bank is celebrating its 20th year hosting Women on Wall Street.”
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