In India, Female Bankers Reign

by Derek Loosvelt | January 29, 2010

This New York Timespiece about the proliferation of females at the top of big bank org charts in India is surprising, fascinating and encouraging, and should serve as a wake-up call to large U.S.-based banks to amp up their hiring of women in major roles.

Chanda KochharThe Timespoints out that in India “one in five of India’s big bank, insurance and money-management companies is headed by a woman.” By comparison, “there are no women leading major American or European banks, and no woman has ever run a Wall Street investment bank.”

As for what the typical executive female banker looks like in India, according to the Times, “Almost all of them are in their 40s and 50s, are from wealthy backgrounds, went to excellent schools in India and abroad, and graduated at the top of their classes before excelling at the bank they joined.”

One of the most powerful female finance executives in India is Icici Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar (pictured at left), who’s been with Icici for 25 years. Another big-time Indian banker is RBS India head’s Meera Sanyal, who once upon a time "was working at Lazard in India when she became pregnant with her first child. She recalls that when she told her boss she wanted to work flexible hours after her baby was born, he said: ‘Are you crazy? We’ve invested a lot of money in you.’ Rather than quit, [Sanyal] vowed to work so hard until she gave birth that Lazard would feel it had gotten its money’s worth. She wrapped up a deal on July 6 and delivered the baby a day later. After that, her boss reconsidered, allowing her to work flexible hours for the same pay.”

Filed Under: Finance


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