On February 12, 2020, the ACAMS New York Chapter held an event titled Empowering Together: Women in AML Leadership, which was sponsored by McKinsey & Company and was hosted by The Center for Professional Accounting Practices at Fordham University. The event was a panel discussion that began with a presentation from Olivia Conjeaud (Associate Partner, McKinsey & Company) and Kate Robu (Partner, McKinsey & Company) on the findings of the Women in the Workplace (2019) study.
The study was conducted through interviews with 600 firms over a course of 5 years and has helped to reveal the unconscious biases about gender and race, as well as some of the hurdles that women tend to face over the course of their careers. Some of the actions that companies can take to address these issues are by establishing evaluation criteria that prevents unconscious bias, building a culture that supports opportunity and fairness, and creating an inclusive workplace.
Following the presentation from McKinsey & Company was a panel discussion led by moderator Meryl Lutsky, Esq. (Chief Compliance Officer, Managing Director of Investigations, T&M Protection Resources, LLC) and included the following panelists: Kerrian Gordon (Director of BSA/AML Compliance and Fraud, Amalgamated Bank); Marilu Jimenez, Esq. (Founder & President at FINCAdvisors); and Angel Nguyen Swift (Independent Consultant at Enigma Technologies, Inc.); and David B. Chenkin (Managing Partner at Zeichner Ellman & Krause LLP). The panelists each gave their reaction to the findings of the study and also spoke about their own experiences regarding gender inequality. One of the recurring topics discussed was the importance of having both mentors and sponsors, and knowing who acts as your mentor versus sponsor. The McKinsey study showed that men tend to look for sponsors throughout their careers, whereas women tend to focus on the need for mentors. According to the panelists, it’s important to ask for what you want, particularly when potentially looking for a mentor to be a sponsor. Other advice provided was that women (particularly women of color) often need to advocate for themselves. As important as it is to advocate for oneself, it’s also important to hold other women accountable for advocating for themselves.
ACAMS Chapters throughout the U.S. have reached out to the New York chapter to discuss holding similar events and the Chapter is creating a mentorship platform to connect mentors to mentees - stay tuned!