WE Interviews – Sharon French


Sharon French
Executive Vice President,
Head of Beta Solutions

As Executive Vice President, Head of Beta Solutions for OppenheimerFunds, Sharon French is charged with building an ETF business that brings beta as an investment vehicle into the organization. The group is a new one within Oppenheimer, starting in 2015 with the acquisition of RevenueShares, and French is enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead. “We’re starting with smart beta, which will evolve over time to include other approaches. That’s an important part of why it’s called Beta Solutions and not the ETF Business or the Smart Beta Business, because we truly are evolving so quickly as an industry, and it’s important to have a broad scope to best serve our clients.”

Currently in the 30th year of her financial services career, French began in global banking and then moved into brokerage and asset management. Her experience in the latter industry spans the retail and institutional marketplace, including both fundamental active as well as passive investing. The last seven years have been on the ETF side, says French, which is where she developed her expertise as a leader within the ETF ecosystem. Continue reading

Parental Leave: Signs of Improvement?

parental-leaveParental leave has been in the news, with companies announcing new, more generous policies, and Presidential candidate Donald Trump revealing his proposed plan for new mothers. Is the US taking steps to catch up to the rest of the developed world with regards to parental leave?

Netflix’s new leave policy generated headlines in August and understandably so: parents will be entitled to one year of paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child. Considering that many companies in the US simply adhere to the Family Medical Leave Act of 12 weeks of unpaid time, the implications from this shift could be enormous. Indeed, following the Netflix announcement, Microsoft changed their policy, offering 20 weeks of paid leave, up from 12 weeks. The technology sector is known for their generous and attractive benefits, given the smaller, skilled talent pool.

Still, professional services are also making changes. This year, both Ernst & Young and Deloitte expanded their paid parental leave policies to 16 weeks. These announcements are encouraging, not only because individual firms are making these changes, but also that their competitors quickly follow suit. In addition, the policies include fathers, not just mothers, a key factor that may help keep women in the workforce as well as possibly close the wage gap.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump announced his maternity leave plan in September. He proposes six weeks of paid leave for birth and adoptive mothers only. In 2015, Hilary Clinton proposed 12 weeks of paid leave for both parents. Mercer’s Global Parental Leave 2016 survey shows that 67% of companies surveyed offered parental leave, which can be broadly defined to include leave for both parents for varying lengths of time. For example, firms offering two weeks of paternity leave can still fall under that 67% statistic, which appears paltry compared to the same company’s maternity leave policy. The survey attributes the gap between maternity and paternity leave to government legislation. It appears that culture really is established at the top.

These are positive developments, particularly in light of recent news from Canada. Statistics Canada released a report detailing a widening gap between working women in the US and Canada. In 2015, US women in the labor market declined to 74%, while Canadian women in the workforce increased to 81%. US numbers have been declining slowly, while Canadian numbers are rising steadily. Participation rates among Canadian women with young children were 8% higher than US women in the same demographic, giving credence to the theory that better paid leave policies can encourage women to remain in the workforce. Canada gives parents up to one year of paid leave.

2017 will be a year to watch as the new President takes office. The current candidates have two very different policy proposals affecting mothers and fathers alike. It remains to be seen if current trends continue in the private sector.

Wage Transparency the Key to Parity?

Pay Equity kinlinIn my previous post on “The Brexit Surprise,” I highlighted the potential situations for women that could arise when Britain leaves the European Union. One of the benefits for women in the European Union is the protection of equal pay, and not simply for the exact same job—for jobs that have comparable value. The United States may begin following suit. In a new law signed by Governor Charlie Baker, Massachusetts employers will now be required to pay individuals the same amount for work of equal value. In addition, employers will not be permitted to ask a candidate what their salary was at their former employer and must disclose a salary range for the job at the outset—paving the way for wage transparency, and therefore, equality. Continue reading

WE Interviews – Sheila Ronning

 Sheila Ronning

Sheila Ronning
Founder & CEO
Women in the Boardroom

As founder and CEO of Women in the Boardroom, Sheila Ronning is not just the visionary behind the organization; she’s also the strategist, head of HR, and the last one to turn out the lights each night. Ronning views herself as an entrepreneur, but she also remains deeply involved in the day-to-day business of running the organization, overseeing all aspects of the company and managing all of the staff.

Given the increased attention to the importance of women serving on corporate boards, Continue reading

C-Suite Insights – Joe Keefe: Negative mentoring can often be more valuable

Joe KeefeMentoring has received a lot of attention in the corporate sector of late, and most have a pretty clear idea of what it entails – lending a hand, offering advice and encouragement, and helping others to learn from your mistakes.

But for Joe Keefe, president and CEO of Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based Pax World Management and Pax Ellevate Management, nurturing isn’t nearly as effective as casting a critical eye. Continue reading