The Best Banks for Women: Customers

VITAMIN W has completed a study on the banking sector which is presented in three parts. Please also see "The Best Banks for Women: Leadership", and "The Best Banks for Women: Employees." This work is part of a larger research project analyzing how companies serve women as consumers, leaders and employees. The full methodology and results of the study will be available in the early summer of 2014.

By Kimberley Killen

Beyond employees, we wanted to ask how the banks are serving their women customers. A few are reaching out for the purses and wallets of women by trying to increase women’s financial well-being. PNC trains bankers in the needs of women business owners—a smart move considering there are 10 million of them. Wells Fargo has made a goal of lending $55 billion to women-owned businesses; the tally is $43 billion so far. But that kind of outreach is rare in this country, not so for Australia and the UK.

Enough about our money. What do banks do with their money? All these banks pull profits in by the billions, and most make charitable and philanthropic contributions. Giving USA recommends that companies direct 1% of pre-tax profits to philanthropy, and while most of the banks donate, there isn’t a lot of money going toward specifically women’s causes. The exception: Bank of America stands out for the $10 million it has directed to Elizabeth Street Capital, along with the Tory Burch Foundation and its impressive document to help evaluate philanthropy for women and girls. We specifically looked for women-centered philanthropy, but we also listed some of the other philanthropic focuses, so consumers can see where banks donate, if not to women’s causes.

While women have made progress in the banking industry, there is more to do before equity is achieved. VITAMIN W’s study seeks to identify the gaps between corporate rhetoric and substantive progress in the retail banking sector. The institutions included in this analysis were chosen based on their rankings on the 2013 Fortune 500. They were examined to reveal how the top financial institutions currently serve women as employees, as emerging leaders, and as consumers, and identify where they have room to improve.

For more informatin on the banking sector, be sure to visit, "The Best Banks for Women: Employees," and "The Best Banks for Women: Leadership." For a description of our methodology, visit our methodology page.

marks the top performers



We welcome your comments, updated information or corrections to this article:

Research Team: Kimberley Killen, Padmini Parthasarathy, and Jessica Pasko.

Image:  HSBC archive via flickr