Black women breaking barriers and shaping the future of finance on a global scale.
In the financial services world, diversity at the highest levels is still a major challenge particularly when it comes to gender and race. In North America, women of colour continue to be underrepresented in financial services roles above entry-level. Black women in particular are grossly underrepresented and hold just 4% of the industry’s c-suite positions.
Although the industry has made progress in closing gender and race gaps, there is still a long way to go.
There are, however, amazing Black women who have put in work to break the bias and rise to the top of their game in financial services. These women are shaping the industry and are a visible representation of what can be achieved when women in finance are supported by their organizations.
Here are few phenomenal Black women from around the world, who are trailblazers and bosses in the financial services industry.
Kikelomo Lawal (Canada)
Kikelomo Lawal is Executive Vice President & Chief Legal Officer at CIBC, one of the top 5 banks in Canada. She leads a global legal team for CIBC’s legal, Government Relations, Corporate Secretary, Ombudsman and Privacy Office functions, and related policies and programs.
Kikelomo has more than 25 years of progressive leadership experience, including legal expertise as both a trial lawyer and a transactional lawyer.
A Harvard Law School grad, Kikelomo has worked in top law firms on Wall Street and on Bay Street in Toronto. Prior to joining CIBC, she was the Chief Legal Officer, Ombuds(wo)man and Corporate Secretary at Interac Corporation.
In 2020, Kikelomo was recognized as one of WXN’s “Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada”.
She’s the first Black female C-suite executive in a top-tier financial institution in Canada.
Carla Harris (USA)
Carla is a Vice Chairman, Managing Director, and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley and has over 30 years of experience in finance. She was also appointed as the chairperson of the National Women’s Business Council in 2013 by President Obama.
Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Carla received an MBA, from Harvard Business School and an BA in economics from Harvard University. Carla has also received Honorary Doctorates of Laws, Humanities and Business from various universities and colleges.
Carla is the author of Expect to Win and Strategize to Win, books which reveal strategies to thrive in any workplace. She is also an amazing and accomplished singer. She has performed four sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall and released several albums.
Hannah Awonuga (UK)
Hannah Awonuga is currently the Global Head of Colleague Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion at Barclays. She started her banking career at the age of 16 working as a branch cashier before joining Barclays a year later.
Hannah grew and developed her career with great support from her organization. She was sponsored by the firm to complete a graduate degree in management and leadership, which ultimately led to her promotion into her first leadership position. In 2019, Hannah was promoted into the Group Diversity & Inclusion team, while on maternity leave!
Hannah is unapologetically Black and her authenticity earned her the role she currently occupies. When not doing work for Barclays, Hannah runs Rarity London, an initiative she founded focusing on female career growth, development and inclusive leadership.
Mariame McIntosh Robinson (Jamaica)
Mariame is in the exclusive league of the very few Black women running financial institutions in the world. She is the President & CEO of First Global Bank based out of Jamaica.
Mariame began her career as a consultant for McKinsey & Company after finishing her Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Oxford in the UK. She then proceeded to get an MBA from Harvard Business School and continued her consulting career at Bain & Company after graduation. After distinguishing herself in consulting, Mariame spent 7 years in private equity at Portland Private Equity, the largest private equity fund management company focused on the Caribbean region, successfully managing portfolios numbering in the US$100s of millions.
Mariame’s passion for education led her to found TEACH Caribbean, an education NGO set up to improve access to quality education for high school students.
Miriam Olusanya (Nigeria)
With over 23 years of banking experience, Miriam is the Managing Director and CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank), one of the top 10 banks in Nigeria.
Miriam graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree in 1995 but decided to pursue a career in financial services. She joined GTBank in 1998 as an executive trainee and worked her way up to becoming the bank’s Group Treasurer and Head of Wholesale Banking. She was subsequently promoted to Executive Director, a position she held until her appointment as MD/CEO in July 2021.
Miriam is the first woman to hold this position in the bank’s history, which has earned her a spot in the global club of female bank CEOs.
Anne Juuko (Uganda)
Another member of the club of Black female bank CEOs is Anne Juuko. Her 20+ years of banking experience culminated in her being appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic Bank Uganda, the largest commercial bank in the country, in March 2020.
Anne had worked in various senior roles at Citibank in Kenya and Uganda before joining Stanbic Bank where she rose to head up the bank’s Global Markets business in Uganda and subsequently run Stanbic’s Corporate & Investment Banking business in Namibia.
Anne Juuko holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and a Master’s degree in Strategic Planning from the Herriot Watt Business School in Edinburgh, Scotland. Throughout her career, Anne has exhibited exemplary performance, demonstrating exceptional leadership and stellar performance and is set to achieve Stanbic Bank Uganda’s strategy and vision.
Anne is the first female Ugandan to serve in the CEO position at Stanbic Bank Uganda.
Mellody Hobson (USA)
Mellody is the President and co-CEO of Ariel Investments, an investment firm that manages over $13 billion in assets and the largest African-American owned mutual fund firm in the US. She is also the chairwoman of Starbucks Corporation.
After graduating from Princeton University, Mellody began her career at Ariel as an intern and rose through the ranks to eventually become the company’s President and eventually it’s co-CEO.
Beyond her work at Ariel, Mellody has become a nationally recognized voice on financial literacy and investor education. She is a regular contributor and analyst on finance, the markets and economic trends for CBS News.
In 2015, she was named to Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world!
Yemisi Edun (Nigeria)
Yemisi Edun is the Managing Director and CEO of First City Monument Bank (FCMB). She was appointed to the role in July 2021. She started her career as an accountant at Deloitte eventually becoming Senior Manager before joining FCMB as Divisional Head of Internal Audit. Yemisi eventually rose to become the bank’s Chief Financial Officer.
Yemisi Edun holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife and a Master’s degree in International Accounting and Finance from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.
She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charter holder.
Basani Maluleke (South Africa)
Basani is currently the Divisional Executive, Business Solutions at Capitec Bank and the former Group Chief Executive Officer of African Bank. She qualified as an attorney at Edward Nathan and worked as a lawyer before pivoting into the banking industry as an accountant.
She joined the corporate finance team at FirstRand Bank, RMB, where she was a member of the teams that pioneered the structuring and implementation of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) ownership transactions for companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
She holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and holds a Bachelor of Commerce and LL.B degrees from the University of Cape Town.
Maluleke made history by becoming the first black woman at the helm of a South African bank.
Chinwe Esimai (USA)
Chinwe is an award-winning lawyer, trailblazing corporate executive, writer and speaker. She is Managing Director and Chief Anti-Bribery Officer at Citigroup, Inc. She is the first person to hold this title in the bank’s history.
Prior to Citi, she spent a combined five years at Goldman Sachs in various regulatory risk management roles. She served as a law professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. She began her career as a corporate associate at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, LLP.
She obtained a B.A. in Political Science, summa cum laude, from the City College of NY, and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.
Chinwe is passionate about inspiring generations of women leaders. She is author of the upcoming book, Brilliance Beyond Borders: Remarkable Women Leaders Share the Power of Immigrace.