Despite the fact that more than half of employees in the financial services industry are women, they remain significantly under-represented in leadership positions. The higher up the ladder the role, the fewer women that can be found on the rung.
A new internal initiative at First Merchants Bank, the First Women Connections group, aims to improve that statistic.
Together, members work towards their mission “to offer support, programs, and resources in order to attract, develop, and retain the most responsive, knowledgeable and high-performing individuals.”
Group meetings are structured to provide comfortable spaces where women employed by First Merchants Bank can discuss issues that arise on the job, network with each other, seek out mentors, and learn about internal growth opportunities and positions.
“I’m proud to work for a company that believes that women deserve just as many seats at the table,” said Community Market and Client Director, Stephanie Madison. “I have been able to advance through my career because of strong women leaders and mentors who believed in my abilities, and I love to see that happening for the current generation.”
The exact makeup of meetings differs from region to region, Madison explained. Her chapter recently completed a three-part series on “creating advocates in the workplace” with author and Pivot Point founder, Julie Kratz. Before that, they held a workshop with a local artist on using art as a stress management tool.
In other chapters, gatherings have been organized around book clubs and community service projects. Regardless of the activity, the underlying purpose always ties back to the group’s fundamental tagline— “Bringing women together who share a common thread.”
Started in 2018 by a group of women leaders who serve on First Merchants Bank’s steering committee, and led by Director of Employee Engagement Karen Cameron, the initiative has already secured the full support of the bank’s CEO and Senior Management Team.
They recognize that this is another step towards the drive for a culture of gender equality in the workplace and are very proud of diversity and inclusion efforts like these that make First Merchants Bank a great place to work.
“We were voted one of the best places to work in Indiana by the Indiana Chamber and our employees,” Madison said. “I have to believe that part of the reason is because we show how interested we are in developing our team members into leaders through programs such as First Women Connections.”
More information about banking and employment opportunities at First Merchants Bank locations is available on their website, www.firstmerchants.com.