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'Gender balance is a business issue' – Interview with Vivienne Artz, President, Women in Banking and Finance

Vivienne Artz-1

Vivienne Artz speaks to us about her role in the banking sector and shares her thoughts on Women of the Square Mile, taking place 15th May at Olympia, London.

Vivienne Artz has been the Chief Privacy Officer of Refinitiv (formed from the Financial and Risk business of Thomson Reuters) since November 2017, based in London, leading the global Privacy Team and overseeing global privacy strategy and practice.

Previously, Vivienne was a Managing Director and Global Head of Privacy Legal and Head of International for the Intellectual Property and Technology Law Group at Citi in the General Counsel’s Office in London. Prior to joining Citi in 2000, Vivienne worked in private practice in London.

Vivienne chairs the International Regulatory Strategy Group Data Working Group and is on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), having previously served on IAPP European Advisory Board and been co-chair of the IAPP Knowledge Net for the UK. Until recently, Vivienne was the chair of the AFME Data Protection Working Group, and participated in the UK Finance Data Protection Working Group. Vivienne is also on the Business and Law Advisory Board of St Mary’s University in the UK.

Vivienne is the current President of Women in Banking and Finance, having been awarded the “Champion for Women” Award at the Women in Banking and Finance Awards for Achievement 2016. Vivienne has many years of experience leading a broad range of diversity initiatives and groups both within firms and across sectors.

Vivienne will be acting as Chairwoman at Women of the Square MileJoin her and 60+ other speakers on 15th May for a day of inspiration, networking, and learning at Olympia London. This is an essential event for all women in banking and finance looking to smash the glass ceiling. JOIN THE MOVEMENTWoSM blog banner

Who is Vivienne Artz, tell us a bit about yourself?

It is sounds like an existential question! I suppose a stand out feature in my life is that I am in the fortunate position of being able to pursue two roles, both of which I love. In my role as President of Women in Banking & Finance (a voluntary three year term), I have the pleasure and privilege to work within a not for profit voluntary organisation that is focussed on making a real difference for women, at all stages of their careers, within the financial services sector.  We are working with Government, Thought Leaders, Academics, Industry Experts, Senior Leadership and frankly, many outstanding women at all levels, to move the needle on the gender agenda.  It has been the most amazing 2 years so far, and it is terrific to be able to be a part of, and to lead, such a fantastic organisation during what genuinely feels like a moment of real opportunity to make a difference within our sector and for women more generally.

The other role I love is being the Chief Privacy Officer at Refinitiv. As a lawyer, I have migrated from technology to e-commerce to social media law and then to privacy. It has been so exciting to be part of how privacy law, practice and awareness has evolved over the last 20+ years, both in the UK and internationally.  With over 135 countries now with privacy laws, it is a fast growing and highly relevant area of practice which keeps me challenged and interested every day.

I am also passionate about spending time with my family, and am the proud mother of two teenagers – there is never a dull moment in our household!

How did Women in Banking and Finance become established? And why is it important for events like Women of The Square Mile to take place?

Women in Banking & Finance (WIBF) was established in 1980 by a small group of women working in financial services as a way of connecting when there were so few women in each firm – it was essential to build a network of women across firms to share challenges and achievements, to mentor and inspire each other, and to also have some fun with female friends in an otherwise male dominated world.  I am so proud to have the opportunity to be President of WIBF as we approach our 40th anniversary next year, and look back at what the network has achieved over the years, including setting up our annual Awards for Achievement 22 years ago!  Today the network is still true to its beginnings, but is aligned along five Strategic Initiatives including Thought Leadership, Communities & Networking, Training & Mentoring, Awards and our new WIBF Jobs board.  We are focussed on connecting, educating and inspiring women to achieve their full career potential.

Why do you think there is a lack of senior female role models in finance?

It is not just about a lack of female role models, but also the right female role models. One of the challenges has been breaking through the glass ceiling to ensure we have an appropriate gender balance at board and senior management level. The efforts of the Women in Finance Charter and other initiatives are helping to deliver better gender balance, but for too long only the most exceptional women have made it to the top.  This gives rise to those frustrating discussions around “how do you do it all?” or “can you have it all?”  We never ask these questions of men.  We need to redefine success and restructure how leadership operates in order to ensure women (and men) are not made to make “difficult choices” in order to succeed.

Tell us a bit more about your research project on the ‘missing middle’ and the talent pipeline. Is there a leaky pipe?

The phenomenon of the missing middle is well acknowledged, and the impact for the progression of women to more senior roles is incredibly significant. We need to address the talent pipeline to ensure we can support improved gender balance at the most senior levels.  Better understanding the causes of the leaky pipe based on empirical research as opposed to theory and speculation is essential to fixing the issue.

Influential and Powerful Women in Finance

Work/life balance is very much a buzzword at the moment. Do you think a lot of women feel that they have to be superwoman all of the time?

I think this reflects that organisations are coming round to the idea that work/life balance isn’t just a women’s issue, and more importantly, it isn’t just the concern of working mothers.  It is the number one consideration for millennials entering the workplace and with people living and working longer; there will inevitably be different pressures to accommodate, such as looking after an elderly parent, pursuing further education or pursing a specific passion.

Re-evaluating how, when and where we work provides us with a unique opportunity to create a gender neutral approach to these challenges, and to create a long term and sustainable model which works for everyone, and not just part of society. So when we talk about balance but ignore men, everyone loses.

What do you think is holding back the advancement of diversity in the corporate world?

Change is uncomfortable and can be disruptive, so our natural instinct is to avoid change.  The business case for increased gender balance and greater diversity at all levels of business is clear however, both as a basis for operation, and in order to attract top talent.  With more examples of how a diverse workplace supports and drives the business case, more businesses will embrace greater workforce diversity with all the benefits it brings for people and business.

Finally, what can our readers, as individuals, do to push for gender diversity and help their organisations invest in the right teams of people?

Be a gender balance champion in your day to day activities and lead by example.    When attending a meeting or event, or conducting an interview with little or no gender balance represented, ask why this is the case. Look at your own team and use every vacancy as an opportunity to achieve great diversity and gender balance in your team. Be the voice in the room for gender balance when no one else is speaking up.  Gender balance is a business issue, not an HR issue, and we need to address it as such.