Women's Leadership Program

Charles Schwab Investment Management

Industry: Finance 

Principle 2: Work-life balance and career development


Charles Schwab Investment Management (CSIM) has been serving investment professionals and their clients for more than 25 years and employs over 400 people. In 2014, it established the CSIM Women’s Leadership Program to create a culture of awareness and a community that fosters women’s advancement. While Schwab broadly provides employees various diversity programs, including an employee resource group dedicated to women, CSIM has developed the Women’s Leadership Program to support its female employees who specialize in asset management, a historically male-dominated part of the financial services industry. In the US, the number of female investment managers has fallen to less than 7%.

"Support is broad across the leadership team and all levels. Not only do I feel senior level support for my career development, there is the expectation that I will do the same for the women on my team." 
Jennifer Hafner
Head of Governance, Regulatory & Business Communications Oversight, Project Office
San Francisco

For CSIM, progress means having women enter the field in greater numbers and, more importantly, advancing women to senior leadership positions at the same rate as men. The success of this practice is measured in many ways – some quantitative and many qualitative. CSIM tracks its employee base, which has a near 50/50 gender make-up for the entire organization, as well as the gender make-up at the leadership level. CSIM also periodically surveys its employees to solicit input on its programming and to foster a culture of support and community, encouraging women to enter and remain in the field of asset management.

How does this model practice work?

In 2018, the CSIM Women’s Leadership Program has three primary pillars:

1. Employee development,
2. Networking, and
3. Advocacy.

In addition to providing programming addressing these three pillars, the CSIM Women’s Leadership Group is intentionally inclusive and engages men, as it is important for everyone to have discussions around gender equity. For example, the Women’s Leadership Program tries to have at least one man participate in each of its panel discussions. While the CEO of CSIM is a woman and the Women’s Leadership Program is her brainchild, CSIM’s male leadership is also engaged and supportive, creating a positive culture for all. 

"CSIM’s Women’s Leadership Group… has provided me an opportunity to network with other women in different groups and across different locations and has helped create a sense of community among the CSIM women." 
Maricor Brown
Client Onboarding
San Francisco

The CSIM Women’s Leadership Program holds formal events once or twice a year and hosts informal sessions monthly. It has created partnerships with Carnegie Mellon University to create “Ask For It” training sessions, designed to help women develop negotiation skills, and with Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research to host events on topics such as understanding unconscious bias for both men and women. Additionally, the CSIM Women’s Leadership Group hosts frequent “Lunch and Learns” to provide CSIM women the opportunity to learn in an informal setting. This programming supports mentorship opportunities, leadership development, training, diversity in recruiting, and the basic premise that all employees are valued and important to the organization.

How can I adopt this model practice in my workplace?

What is unique about this practice is that it identifies a very specific audience – the women of CSIM – on which to focus the programming efforts and development. To implement a Women’s Leadership Program in your workplace, CSIM suggests forming a working group that leads the effort to solicit input and generate programming ideas. This same group can execute the programming and gather feedback to improve future events and foster a sense of community and inclusive culture at your organization.

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