By Malena Ljungkvist, Chief Risk Officer for RBC in Europe
For me, International Women’s Day is a celebration of all the accomplishments of women across the globe, regardless of their background or profession.
It’s a reminder for women to believe in themselves and empower each other but also for everyone to embrace equality and equity.
The finance industry has come a long way in terms of the advancement of women, and in diversity more generally, such as the implementation of gender pay gap reporting, family-friendly policies, and mentorship programmes. When I started my career in banking in 2000, you could count the number of women in risk management on one hand, and while it can still be male-dominated today, we are seeing more women join the risk field.
I have had many positive experiences as my career has progressed but the one thing that stands out for me was being promoted during my maternity leave in 2006, which was unheard of at the time. My male manager was supportive and stood up for me and this brings home the importance of having allies, advocates, mentors, and supporters.
While progress has been made, there’s more that needs to be done, particularly in ensuring the representation of women in senior management roles by attracting, retaining, and enabling the best talent and increasing leadership diversity.
It has been proven that firms with greater gender diversity perform better and it is refreshing that the commitment to diversity and inclusion is at the forefront of agendas across the sector. To keep improving, we can all benefit from better understanding attrition and ensuring women are supported at each stage of their careers.
I would also like to see more support offered to parents who are returning to work after a leave of absence. What I have seen work well at RBC is employees being offered phased return-to-work programmes, buddy programmes, tailored coaching, and mentorship so that employees can seek advice and support in getting back into the work environment.
For young women starting out in their careers, I would say: stay positive and resilient as there will be challenges. You are in charge of your career; look for opportunities to grow, get involved, and be proactive. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help. The sky is your limit!
About the author
Malena is the Chief Risk Officer for RBC in Europe, with oversight for Asia Pacific, and Head of Group Risk Management for RBC Wealth Management, Insurance, and Investor & Treasury Services.
Her responsibilities include setting the strategic direction for risk management across the areas she covers and providing leadership in the implementation and execution of leading practices in risk oversight.
She is from a small town in Sweden called Åhus. After finishing senior school, she spent a gap year working in a hotel in the UK, before studying Accounting and Management, and then a Masters in Money, Banking and Finance at Middlesex University. Her first job in market risk was at Commerzbank before joining RBC in 2004, covering global arbitrage and trading.