Photo by Kayleigh Omang
Gate City Bank is empowering its female employees at an impressive rate. Last month, our wonderful writer for our Ladyboss of The Month features, Katie Beedy, pointed out stats from the Worl Economic Forum that showed just 40 percent of bank depositors and borrowers and less than 20 percent of Executive Board Members are women. Meanwhile, 70 percent of Gate City Bank’s leadership roles are held by women. In order to highlight this great fact, and learn a little bit more about why this is so important to Gate City Bank, we sat down with the companies Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Development, Heather Rye, for a quick Q&A.
With 70 percent of Gate City’s leadership roles being held by women, why do you think Gate City has offered women opportunities that other places seem not to?
Gate City Bank believes having diverse leaders is essential to the success of an organization and this belief starts at the top. The Bank’s Executive Chair, Steve Swiontek, encourages and supports women in leadership roles. He specifically looks for leaders who are innovative, creative and that take initiative. In addition, Gate City has always championed benefits for women such as 12-weeks maternity leave and an on-site mother’s room.
Our Executive Leadership Team currently consists of 50% female executives. Strong female leaders in these roles demonstrates to other female team members that they too can achieve a leadership role – allowing us to grow our existing team members and attract new individuals.
How does Gate City foster a culture of professional development for women?We invest in our team members and encourage all leaders to take advantage of our internal and external development opportunities. Internal development for our leaders is an on-going focus each month. Our leaders tackle topics ranging from self-development to personal branding to innovation. Our Emerging Leaders Program consists of 58% women who work one-on-one with a professional development coach to tailor growth uniquely to match each of their individual needs and aspirations.
Championing our female team members passion and support for other female leaders within our communities is extremely important to us. Many of our team members attend and present at female-focused events and conferences and we encourage our team members to hold positions with non-profit charities on committees or boards they are passionate about. We also make a conscious effort to financially support female-focused community events and programs such as Ladyboss, Women’s Entrepreneurship Week and more.
Why is that important?
Gender diversity in companies provides greater productivity, greater innovation, better decision making and higher retention of team members. These are must-haves for a great work culture. We believe supporting organizations that are female led, as well as our female customers, is important for sustainability and growth within our communities.
What are some tips you would have for other organizations in that regard?
At Gate City Bank, we believe team members can achieve both personal and professional success.
- Having strong benefits that support women is a must. We offer fully paid 12-weeks maternity leave, fully paid military leave, great health benefits, are an infant friendly employer, and provide flexible work schedules.
- Supporting female-led and focused organizations. Whether it’s through financial support or volunteerism, connecting to the organizations and charities that help drive women’s empowerment is essential.
- Recognizing women who have achieved success throughout our communities. We send personal notes to women; recognizing them and thanking them for their leadership in women’s empowerment.
- Investing time in future generations of female leaders. Get involved with colleges, universities and youth-focused programs.