Advancing women’s leadership and economic empowerment globally

The diversity of our employees – in thought, belief, style, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, ability and experience – makes us stronger and is essential to our ability to fulfil our purpose of making financial lives better and achieving our business strategy of responsible growth.

We have a long heritage of supporting women’s economic empowerment and leadership, both through external partnerships and within our own organisation. Recent recognition for this work includes being cited as a leader in the annual Bloomberg Financial Services Gender-Equality Index; winning Women in Banking & Finance’s 2016 Team Diversity Award; and being honoured as Euromoney’s 2017 World’s Best Bank for Corporate Social Responsibility and their 2016 World’s Best Bank for Diversity.

1. Driving gender equality in financial services through the Women in Finance Charter

Launched by the UK government in 2016, the Women in Finance Charter aims to improve gender diversity in UK financial services. Bank of America invests in women at all levels of the company globally and our efforts across EMEA align with the spirit of the UK Charter. The signing of the Charter by Bank of America Merrill Lynch reinforces our position as a global leader in striving for gender equality. Consequently, we have targeted the achievement of 28% female representation in senior management roles in EMEA by the end of 2021.

“Bank of America Merrill Lynch has a long history of supporting women’s leadership and economic empowerment. We are therefore pleased to have signed the Women in Finance Charter and recognize the positive impact it will have on our industry in the UK”, said Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, president, EMEA at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

2. Empowering women business and social enterprise leaders in Eastern Europe and MENA

In February 2016, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Vital Voices Global Partnership collaborated to host a public forum in London to address women’s roles in addressing urgent challenges in the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe.

As part of the ongoing Global Ambassadors Program (GAP), a partnership between the bank and Vital Voices, this weeklong mentorship initiative aimed to empower women in business and social enterprise through one-on-one mentoring sessions and strategic workshops focused on building organizational management, financial acumen and leadership skills.

Program participants, who promote social change and economic growth in countries facing humanitarian crises, fractured economies and unstable governments, discussed challenges and shared strategies to achieve their goals.

“Women play a crucial role in advancing the global economy, with recent research indicating that their participation in labor markets could add as much as US$28 trillion to global annual GDP by 2025,” said Anne Finucane, vice chairman, Bank of America. “By connecting women leaders from the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe to mentoring for skills-building and broader networks, we can help bring more stability and prosperity to these regions.”

In conjunction with the London forum, Vital Voices and Bank of America Merrill Lynch also hosted a public forum, “Women, Progress and the Global Economy”, in March 2016 that convened stakeholders and thought leaders to discuss contemporary issues concerning women’s economic and social empowerment, with a special emphasis on women in the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe.

“In this fifth year of our partnership with the bank, we are proud of the impact we’ve had on advancing women leaders as engines of economic growth and agents of social change,” said Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices. “These women have pushed through so many barriers to achieve what they have, and now they are poised to grow, despite the challenges. They are truly inspiring.”

3. Launching the Returning Talent program in Dublin, Ireland

Following the success of our Returning Talent program in London and Chester, the award-winning initiative recently launched in Dublin.

Returning Talent is aimed at individuals looking to reenter the workplace after being out of work for a year or more and is open to applicants from a range of backgrounds including finance, technology, banking operations and other professional services.

In Dublin, the company was specifically looking to source suitable candidates from the program to fill positions in their Dublin-based Technology and Operations team. Roles include: developers, business and operations analysts, and project and operations managers.

The 2017 Dublin program invited 25 participants to attend a two-day conference in May. They heard from guest speakers and participated in a series of workshops focused on managing a career search, interview skills and balancing work and home lives. Participants also received access to executive coaching and the opportunity to build their professional connections through a series of networking sessions with bank employees.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch pioneered one of the first Returner programs in the UK seven years ago. To date, more than 300 people have participated, with many going on to secure roles at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Peter Keegan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch country executive for Ireland said, “We were delighted to announce the launch of our Returning Talent program in Dublin. Through initiatives such as this, we are able to give people at all stages of their lives and careers, the support, confidence and skills to prosper, and the inspiration to succeed in the financial services marketplace.”


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