More women filling bank management roles

More women filling bank management roles

By Katherine Michalets, of SBT

When customers walk into the new St. Francis Bank branch office in Oak Creek, they will notice eight smiling faces, all of which belong to women.
As one of seven all-female branches in the St. Francis Bank system, the Oak Creek office at 125 E. Puetz Rd. offers its employees many opportunities, according to Kim Jankowski, the Oak Creek branch manager and assistant vice president.
Jankowski is one of 17 female branch managers employed at St. Francis Bank. With 23 branches, female branch managers are the majority at St. Francis Bank.
Indeed, the banking industry, long the denizen of men in business suits, has increasingly become more receptive to women.
"There has not been so much an increase of women in banking. I would say women in management positions, I’ve seen a definite increase in that," said Judith Gauvin, executive vice president-human resources at St. Francis Bank.
Women at St. Francis Bank hold 32 of 70 (44%) of the company’s officer positions. Of the 590 employees at the Brookfield-based corporation, 440 employees are women.
Lisa Wolf, senior vice president of marketing at St. Francis Bank, believes opportunities such as training and the support of tenure attract female employees and help retain them.
St. Francis Bank does not discourage the hiring of male employees, Jankowski said, but instead hires "the best candidate at the time."
Cynthia Loew, executive director-community relations for the Milwaukee-based Merchants & Manufacturers Bancorporation (MMBC), has seen a change in the roles that women play in banking.
"In my opinion, the last 10 years have seen a change, and women are finding themselves in leadership positions in banking," Loew said.
In fact, Lincoln State Bank and Franklin State Bank, subsidiaries of MMBC, both have female presidents.
Cheryl McCollum, director of communications for the Wisconsin Bankers Association, said that for the first time, two women are on the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s board of directors. "We are noticing more and more women joining the association and committees," said McCollum.
Women also are becoming more involved in the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s Leadership Development Program, a training program for future bank leaders. According to McCollum, four of the 20 participants were women this year.
Amelia Macareno, senior vice president and commercial lender at Lincoln State Bank in Milwaukee at 1000 N. Water St., also sees an increase of women in banking.
"We are starting to see more and more women in key leadership positions," she Macareno said. "I am proud of our organization because there are quite a few women in key leadership positions."
Macareno believes women tend to have skills that make them good bank employees. "Women bring a lot to banking. They are very customer service orientated, and they have good management skills. They also have good analytical skills," she said.
"From an employer perspective, I know that women are good listeners, and they are very dedicated. They are very empathetic and work hard to resolve any kind of customer situations that might come up," Jankowski said.
"Banking is orientated towards women, especially teller positions and retail bankers," said Donna Sweet, president of Franklin State Bank.
At the two branches of Franklin Sate Bank, 19 out of 20 employees are women, and the only male works part-time.
MMBC currently employs 303 women and 108 men.
Carla Breunig, executive vice president of MMBC subsidiary Layton State Bank, said that 80% of retail banking positions are held by women. However, at the bank’s executive level, that number is reversed, with 80% of positions held by men.
Marshall & Ilsley Corp. (M&I Bank) has the largest banking presence in Wisconsin. Headquartered in Milwaukee, M&I has 12,128 employees in 251 branches in seven states. Female employees are in the majority with 7,863 women at M&I.
Women also hold about 48% of the company’s officer positions.
M&I has a long history of supporting women in banking, according to Patty Cadorin, vice president and corporate communications director.
"M&I appointed Wisconsin’s first female bank officer in 1926 and through its history has continued to value the contributions of female officers and executives throughout the company," Cadorin said.
The number of women officers at M&I tend to increase every year, Cadorin said.
Although more women are attaining higher positions in banks, Macareno sees room for improvement.
"Women don’t have as much access to mentoring as men do," said Macareno. "I think that it is a dynamic time for women to be in banking. I would encourage anyone in college to consider a career in banking."

Oct. 17, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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