Women in Finance: the continued success of Shadowing Day

Natixis’ 3rd Shadowing Day, which aims to familiarize female students with the financial professions, took place on 4 December. For one day only, 50 of Natixis’ female employees welcomed 50 young women of varied educational backgrounds (business schools, universities, engineering schools, international education) into their professional world. It was a real opportunity for these young women to immerse themselves in our working environment for the day and to discover our business lines - be it trade finance, risk management, portfolio management etc. - by shadowing an employee.

The feminization of finance: a profound transformation

The feminization of our business lines, starting with our leadership and more broadly with the financial sector, is a priority for Natixis. Although 50% of women come out of business schools, too few choose a career in finance. This issue was broached at the end of the Shadowing Day by Anne-Cécile Delas, Global Head of Trade and Treasury Solutions, and Mohamed Kallala, Global Head of Investment Banking at Natixis Corporate and Investment Banking. Fruitful discussions that motivated the female students were driven by a common desire to overcome stereotypes.

Discussing her decision to work in finance, Anne-Cécile Delas said "I had preconceived ideas about banking, I saw it as quite removed from the real economy and I thought I would have less leverage in a bank than in a company. But I've changed my mind since! In reality, banking is very rich and varied in terms of background (credit analysis, commercial, trade, finance, etc.) and allows us to have a direct impact on the economy through the projects we finance." For Mohamed Kallala, "The absence of women in the scientific and financial sectors is cultural to France" before adding humorously that he has been encouraging his daughter in this direction: "You mustn't wait to be given rights, you must take them without being asked, so do it!" And he adds: "Hiring women in no way compromises our workforce's skillset". 

Anne-Christine Champion, Global Head of Real Assets (Aviation, Real Estate, Infrastructure) at the Corporate and Investment Bank and President of Winn, Natixis' network for promoting gender diversity, concluded the day with conviction: "The financial sector broadens horizons and offers many opportunities. Our highly entrepreneurial DNA and our prominent position in the economy give us the ability to push the boundaries. It's exciting!". She also highlighted the importance of the networking encouraged by the Winn network, which has 1,000 members worldwide, 20% of whom are men. "I am convinced that gender diversity is a step forward for men too. Winn contributes to improving gender diversity, thereby improving Natixis' performance for the benefit of all. This necessitates raising awareness amongst our managers in conjunction with the Human Resources department."

Concrete actions to promote diversity

Women Shadowing Day is part of Natixis' plans to increase its diversity. The recruitment objectives for 2020 are clear:

  • Total equality within our talent pools and our leadership development programs
  • 30% women in our uppermost leadership group and 40% in the leadership group immediately below

As Anne-Cécile Delas points out, "diversity is a source of performance and equality because it allows us to think differently. The financial sector must make a collective effort. An initiative like this helps in this respect. It is up to us to convince future generations."

Similarly, Human Resources are seeking to ensure equal pay. Christelle Room, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Natixis, recalls: "Analysis grids on the pay gap exist within the company and we publish our results, notably through the equality index in France." However, she points out that "the pay gap is a societal problem that can be observed from the moment you join a company." During job interviews, women subconsciously have lower salary expectations than men. "We must all be very attentive: only the joint effort of candidates, human resources managers and managers alike will make things happen. Schools also have a proactive role to play, and some already offer negotiation courses to give candidates the power to negotiate their salaries with confidence. Money should not be taboo," she concludes.

Women Shadowing Day 2019: Objective Reached!

We have reached our objective: we were given a score of 4.8/5 by the participing students: all of them would recommend taking part in Shadowing Day. "It's the best possible way to learn about the business lines and to see oneself working in them. I plan to see my sponsor again in January 2020. And why not do an internship with you in June," said one of the students at the end of the day.

The feedback has also been very positive from the employees that took part, who say that they would love to do it all over again. Soliane Varlet, an Equity Portfolio Manager at Mirova and role model for a day, even agreed to talk about her Top Job. Discover what she loves about her work, her proudest achievement and, above all, her advice to young women for succeeding in finance.

Also watch the interview with Guiraude Lame, Head of Data Business at Natixis' Technology & Transformation division.

Within the top management, the initiative is seen as a key to future success: "Thanks to Shadowing Day, roughly fifty female students were given a behind the scenes tour of our businesses, including those of Natixis Asset & Wealth Management. This is an excellent way to stimulate their interest in finance and to attract new talents," says Christophe Lanne, Chief Transformation and Talent Officer at Natixis' Asset & Wealth Management division.

We are all looking forward to next year!

 

Commitments and actions

We want to allow all talents to flourish.
Since 2009, when we signed the Corporate Diversity Charter, we have been officially engaged in tackling all forms of discrimination, at all stages of people's careers.
We have regularly renewed this commitment, notably with respect to diversity, signing the Women's Empowerment Principles in 2019.