Deutsche Bank seeks new blood to rebuild trust in bankers: older women please apply

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Deutsche Bank’s executive committee. You see the problem.
Deutsche Bank’s executive committee. You see the problem.
Image: Deutsche Bank

Bank critics have been clamoring for more regulation to rein in excessive risk-taking and malfeasance by financial institutions.

Deutsche Bank has another approach: It wants to employ more older people, and more women.

Head of Human Resources and Compliance Stephan Leithner told conference-goers in Frankfurt today:

“Let me be provocative: The banker of the future will be more female, more international, older, more team oriented and more mobile, and needs to enjoy working with technology.”

Some academic research has suggested that increasing the number of women on business teams raises the collective intelligence of the group. “In many situations, female staff contribute toward team orientation, partnership and long-term sustainability,” Leithner said. Deutsche Bank wants to raise the percentage of women in leadership positions to 35% by 2018 from around 30% last year, and those in senior leadership roles to 25% from 17%.

Of course, gender isn’t on its own a reliable filter for screening out mavericks and hotheads. In fact, some research has concluded that women aren’t necessarily more risk-averse than men. If Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters, the financial meltdown could well have been the same. One of Deutsche’s other goals—employing older people—might do more to even out the tempers of its staff.

But if only for the sake of a more diverse workforce with a bigger mix of experience, the financial industry can only gain by promoting more women. Just 10 of Goldman Sachs’ 70 new partners are female. Deutsche Bank’s interest in older staff and women sounds patronizing on some level—but in the end such an approach is seriously overdue.