A list of new managing directors (MDs) at Credit Suisse surfaced this week. Comprising only 133 people, it was notable both for its brevity and its lack of women.
When Goldman Sachs appointed 266 MDs last month, 23% of them were female bankers. In a world where women and men are born in roughly equal quantities, this wasn’t great. But Goldman is a mothers’ union compared to Credit Suisse, where a mere 10.5% of this year’s MD promotes are women.
Credit Suisse didn’t return a request for comment on its poor proportion of female managing directors. In the bank’s defense, it appears that Goldman’s list of MDs includes its asset management arm. Women are typically more prolific in asset management. Credit Suisse’s list of MD promotes includes private bankers and US-based wealth brokers, suggesting the list is also company-wide, although this has not been verified by the bank.
Still, with just 14 women on Credit Suisse’s list of 133 new managing directors, the Swiss bank is surely doing something wrong?
“I looked at the list last night and was surprised at how short it was. They seem to be being more frugal with promotions during difficult times,” says one expert on women in the workplace, who works with Credit Suisse and therefore declined to provide a named comment. “I wouldn’t judge a bank simply on how many women it promotes to MD. Those are just figures from one year. You want to look at the overall number of women in the MD pool,” she adds.
There are certainly women already occupying senior positions at Credit Suisse. Key examples include Emma Balaam - head of high yield bond sales for EMEA, Marisa Drew – global co-head of the global markets solutions group, and Susan Kilsby – chairman of EMEA M&A.
By comparison, this year’s MD promotions at Credit Suisse seem skewed towards its private bank and US brokerage business: Eileen Duff Blalock, Linda Karn, Samina Jafree and Gabriela Teran each fall into this category. The few female investment bankers who’ve been promoted at Credit Suisse this year include Julie El-Taher, director of advanced execution services, and Elaine Sam, vice-president, equities, derivatives marketing at Credit Suisse’s New York offices.
As particularly disappointing as Credit Suisse’s MD promotions are, it’s finally worth bearing in mind that no investment bank achieves great figures for women at senior levels. There may be an important sociological reason for this. A recent study by academics at Wharton suggested that women who are earn more than men are perceived as threatening to their husbands and that relationships where the woman is the higher earner are less likely to endure. Women often seek to avoid this situation and maintain their relationship by working less or opting for lower paid roles, the study claimed.