Continuing With Female Leadership, NYSE Names Lynn Martin President

The world’s largest stock market, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), will have a new woman at the helm. Lynn Martin has been appointed the next president of the NYSE, succeeding Stacey Cunningham. The finance world is still largely male-dominated, and research indicates that adding women to key roles helps more junior women aspire to leadership roles.

The NYSE is owned and operated by International Exchange Inc (ICE), which announced the leadership change in a letter to employees today. In taking on her new role, Lynn Martin will officially be the third female president of the NYSE. Her predecessor Stacey Cunningham has led the NYSE since 2018. Another woman, Catherine Kinney, was a co-president of the NYSE in the 2000s, but male chief executive officers led the exchange at the time. In addition to Martin,  Sharon Bowen, a female ICE and NYSE board member, will become the next chair of the NYSE, replacing Jeff Sprecher.

When ICE Chairman and CEO Jeff Sprecher tapped Martin for the president position, Martin reports, “I was floored. I was honored, mainly because I understood the gravity of being asked to do this role as a woman and what it represents to have the confidence of a Fortune 500 CEO and entrepreneur whom I have admired for years.”

It would be great to be at a point where it’s not news that a woman has reached the top level of a financial institution, but we’re not there yet. At U.S. financial services firms, women account for just under 24% of leadership roles, according to a 2021 analysis from Deloitte, and this number is only projected to grow to 28% by 2030. (In 2019, Deloitte projected that by 2030, 31% of senior leaders in finance would be women, so we’re not progressing quite as quickly as previously thought). The situation is dramatically worse at the very top levels, as only 4% of CEO positions of S&P 500 financial service institutions are held by women. 

As a result of their small numbers, women in finance report obstacles to advancement that their male peers just don’t face. Women in Banking & Finance, a nonprofit group in London, interviewed women in finance about their experiences. Surprisingly, nearly a quarter (22%) of the women specifically mentioned “mediocre” men, who they said could survive more easily in finance than women with comparable abilities.


Another common complaint of the women in finance was that they felt they were required to find an innovative niche to succeed in the industry. “Although women who carved out an innovative niche clearly ended up benefiting in terms of career accolades and progression, the niche pathway is also clearly riskier. It is possible that other women not included in this study because they left the industry having tried this road and failed,” the report authors summarize. Men, on the other hand, were more often successful following traditional paths to leadership. The report states that the situation was even direr for Black women, for whom the report says, “the headwinds were more intense and the tailwinds were fewer.”

Promoting women like Martin into senior-level positions helps turn the tide for other women in finance. So dramatic is the impact of senior women, the Deloitte researchers estimate, “for every woman added to the C-suite in an organization, three women rise to senior leadership roles. Known as the multiplier effect, this phenomenon is one of the most important reasons why financial services firms should bolster efforts to achieve gender equity.”

Why is there such a dramatic impact from adding women to senior roles? A KPMG study found that 86% of women mentioned that when they see more women in leadership, they are encouraged to get there themselves. “Confidence is key for leadership, but it’s something women struggle with throughout their careers,” the report authors summarize. Having role models gives women the confidence to pursue leadership positions themselves. 

Still, gender equity in finance is a long way off. One estimate suggested that if current trends continue, gender equality in leadership roles at financial services firms may not be reached until 2085. Women’s advocacy group,  100 Women in Finance is calling for women to occupy 30% of senior investment roles and executive committee positions by 2040. Both estimates suggest progress will be slow. More women in leadership will only help accelerate the path to equality.

The Tycoon Herald