Out of the Darkness: How the Workplace Can Impact Suicide Survivors

Out of Darkness WalkI recently attended the Orange County, CA Out of the Darkness Community Walk and the opening ceremony included several personal accounts of how lives are impacted by suicide. There were two that really stuck with me.

The first was from a woman who lost her sister over twenty-five years ago. She talked about the stigma associated with suicide. She told the audience about returning to work after her sister’s death and being asked by an insensitive co-worker, “What was so awful in your sister’s life that would have caused her to do THAT?”

The host of the Walk’s opening ceremony gave the second account. He talked about attempting to take his own life at the age of 18. After being released from the hospital, he was offered a job digging ditches by a man aware of what he had done. The host believed the physical labor of the job had helped him recover from his depression.

The two stories show that a person’s place of work can be a source of additional pain or a place that provides care, support and promotes healing. The difference, I believe, lies in the education of business leaders about the role the workplace can play in suicide prevention, as well as the care that can be provided following a death by suicide.

The Out of the Darkness Community Walk, the signature fundraising campaign for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), brings together family, friends, colleagues, and supporters every fall for 3 to 5-mile walks in hundreds of communities nationwide. It’s a great opportunity to not only participate in a worthwhile cause, but also get a closer look at how suicide in the workplace touches lives well beyond the employee in crisis.

Human Resources Challenges in Banking Today

The banking industry is in a state of evolution.   Managing constant change in the workplace so that employees remain motivated and productive is a challenge for today’s leadership.

An American Banker post last week pointed out several other human resources challenges facing banking executives:

Topping the list are recruitment, leadership development and employee engagement, according to executives and consultants in human resources. Banks also face tougher competition for talent, not just from each other, but from other types of businesses.

Add to this list the demand for talented risk and compliance professionals which are needed by banks to keep up with the current regulatory environment.

Read the full article:  What are the Biggest Human Resources Challenges at Banks.

Women in Banking: Millennials Face Higher Hurdles Than Baby Boomers

Baby boomer women in banking are closing in on retirement and reflecting on careers that saw tremendous advancement of women in the industry. They have every reason to be proud of their accomplishments. But are women who entered banking a generation ago leaving behind better career opportunities for the generation of Millennial women who will follow them? Has a trail worth following been blazed?

office managerLooking around today you’ll find far fewer young women eagerly pursuing banking careers. There are many reasons for this: disappearing jobs, stagnant salaries, loss of prestige and fulfillment in being a banker, few role models and even fewer mentors to help them along the way.

Banking is one of the few business sectors that has not recovered the jobs it lost during the Great Recession. The industry is, in fact, still shedding jobs, thanks in part to the shrinking number of banks in the U.S.

To make matters worse, publicity following Kevin Roose’s book, Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street’s Young MoneyPost-Crash Recruits further damaged the already fragile allure of the entry-level banking analyst job. Roose’s book directly targeted a Millennial audience. Two of the eight analysts profiled in the book are identified as female. He did not paint a pretty picture of a career in banking. The larger banks responded by implementing programs to improve analysts’ quality of work life and significantly increased the size of their 2014 classes. Nevertheless, the Wall Street Journal “MoneyBeat” blog noted last month that a larger percent than ever of the analysts’ classes are opting out of banking and pursuing other careers.

For those banks hoping to capitalize on the value Millennials place on corporate social responsibility and good corporate citizenship, their efforts are often falling on deaf ears. A recent survey reported by FastCompany indicates 4 out of the 10 brands most hated by Millennials are banks and the generation views banks as irrelevant. Seventy-one percent (71%) of Millennials surveyed said they would “rather go to the dentist than listen to what bankers are saying.”

Beth Mooney, CEO of KeyCorp, first female CEO of a top 20 U.S. banking company

Beth Mooney, CEO of KeyCorp, first female CEO of a top 20 U.S. banking company

But the saddest development of all, in my opinion, is that there are so few really successful female role models in banking to which the younger generation can point as examples to follow. Note that I didn’t say there are no examples of successful women in banking. That’s not true. There are. But after a generation of hard work and perseverance, shouldn’t there be more? Heather Landy, former Editor of American Banker magazine, made a similar point earlier this summer when she wrote about the dwindling number of female CEOs in banks with over $10 billion in assets.

To truly appreciate the contrast between the current state of banking for younger women and the one entered by the baby boomers at the beginning of their careers, it helps to look at the environment then. Doors of opportunity were opening.

Banks were developing programs to increase diversity at higher levels of management. Women were being invited to join training and development programs in which they had never before participated. New benefits, such as paternity leaves, were coming into existence to support their new careers. And banking was considered to be an enviable path to pursue. Bankers, along with doctors and lawyers, were viewed as pillars of their communities.

Women could clearly see opportunity for advancement in banking. And their salaries grew accordingly. It was certainly not an easy road to travel, but it was rewarding.

Today the future for women in banking doesn’t look overwhelmingly bright. You can, of course, make the argument that it is just as challenging for men. But men have historically held the positions of influence in banking and they continue to hold them.

As a woman of the baby boomer generation in banking, I wish we were leaving a more widely blazed trail to a clearly desirable career destination for our daughters and granddaughters to follow.

Banking and Finance Employment: September 2014

BLS_logoTotal Financial Activities employment increased by 12,000 in September, which compared with an average monthly job gain of 7,000 over the past year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on October 3. Employment increased in securities and insurance carriers.  There was little charge to employment in real estate.  Employment declined in commercial banking.

Securities gained 4,800 job in September and has increased by 22,100 jobs over the past year.

In September, insurance carriers and related activities’ job growth continued to trend up (+6,300). This is slightly higher than its average monthly job gain of 5,300 over the prior twelve months.  Insurance and related activities is up by 62,400 jobs over the past year.

Jobs continue to decline in commercial banking.

Jobs continue to decline in commercial banking.

Credit intermediation employment was unchanged in September and 41,700 jobs have been lost over the past year. Within the industry, commercial banking was unchanged and 33,800 jobs have been lost over the past year.  Average monthly job loss in credit intermediation and commercial banking is 3,900 and 2,700, respectively.

Real estate and rental and leasing showed little change over the month and is up by 46,300 jobs over the year. Average monthly job gain in real estate and rental and leasing is 3,700 over the prior twelve months.

Overall, a total of 89,000 jobs have been added to the Financial Activities industry since September 2013.

Over the past twelve months, the average weekly earnings of Financial Activities employees have risen by 2.7 percent.

Source:  BLS Employment Situation Summary, September 2014

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