Citi makes long-term commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

By Thy An   March 20, 2024 | 07:00 pm PT
Maria Hackley, Citi’s Global Head of Industrials who was named one of 25 most powerful women in finance for three consecutive years by American Banker, said that Citi's long-term commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion will continue to be the core of its vision.
Maria Hackley, Citi’s Global Head of Industrials. Photo courtesy of Maria

Maria Hackley, Citi’s Global Head of Industrials. Photo courtesy of Maria

What are the key milestones in your career journey that have led you to be Citi's Global Head of Industrials?

I have spent more than 30 years of my entire career at Citi. I first joined the bank as an analyst in the Latin American Financial Institutions Group, covering foreign subsidiaries of Central American banks.

I wanted to have the experience of covering U.S.-based clients, and I then pivoted to take on the relationship management responsibility of insurance companies, finance companies, and banks.

My then-mentor encouraged me to take on a managerial stretch assignment leading the global industrial banking sector for the corporate bank.

In my current role since 2016, I manage a team focused on developing global relationships with industrial clients in aviation, autos, shipping, rail, metals, and mining, and focusing on leading and executing corporate finance transactions.

Our goal is to deliver a wide array of financial solutions, providing advice on capital structure, acquisition finance, debt issuance, infrastructure finance, working capital optimization, credit advisory, structured finance, risk management and treasury services to industrial clients.

Over my tenure, I have helped raise over US$100 billion for clients through investment-grade bond issuances, revolving credit facilities, and asset-based landings.

How does Citi use its global network to support industrial clients in Vietnam?

Vietnam is one of the most dynamic emerging economies in Asia and is at an inflection point where foreign companies are increasingly looking to increase their investments and exposure in the country as supply chains shift and ASEAN continues to grow.

Citi believes that the foreign investment inflows into manufacturing will remain strong and that Vietnam will continue to grow and develop as a sought-after manufacturing hub in the region.

The bank economists estimate that supply chain shifts will support industrial production and export growth for Vietnam in 2024, enabling Vietnam to maintain its competitiveness in exports and attract foreign capital.

As a banking partner to the biggest multinational corporations across the world, Citi is well positioned to support our multinational clients’ business interests in Vietnam as they look to capture opportunities in Asia and ASEAN and diversify their global supply chains.

We serve the biggest FDI client portfolio of Fortune 500 companies and facilitate annual international trade flows exceeding US$90 billion in Vietnam.

In Vietnam, Citi remains the bank of choice for top-tier local corporations, financial institutions, and large multinational companies because of our unmatched credentials, experienced and skilled personnel, and global network in 95 markets.

We can open doors and facilitate connections around the world, offer expertise and advice on regulatory matters, and help clients navigate market-specific nuances while ensuring uniformity in the products, platforms, and services that we offer across geographies. 

As a senior leader at Citi, what strategies have you implemented to promote diversity and inclusion in the organization?

At Citi, our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is a long-standing value and continues to be core to who we are as a bank.

A diverse workforce is invaluable to serving our more than 200 million clients and customers across nearly 160 markets, and we have a well-established track record of cultivating a culture of inclusion and belonging for our colleagues.

We are also committed to transparency and accountability in our efforts to achieve pay equity and representation of women and racial and ethnic minorities.

To illustrate this point, Citi was the first bank to disclose our adjusted pay results in 2018 and in 2019 and became one of the first companies to disclose our unadjusted or raw pay gaps for both women and US minorities.

Based on the results, we made appropriate pay adjustments wherever gaps were identified.

We set out our first set of aspirational representation goals, which we achieved in 2018, and since then, we have expanded our goals for 2025 to be more global and inclusive.

These goals include boosting the global representation of women from assistant vice president to managing director levels to 43.5% in 2025.

Citi was also among the first financial services firms to achieve gender parity on its board.

Our work doesn’t end there. We embed diversity through our talent recruitment process and invest in career development and planning for diverse talent through mentorship, networking, rotational programs, and partnerships.

By providing access to learning opportunities, development programs, and mentors across the firm, we try to maintain an inclusive culture and build a pipeline of diverse leaders.

What are some of the challenges that women encounter in positions of leadership in the finance industry, and how could these challenges be overcome?

There are two parts to this. First is at the entry level, where I think the finance industry has made the most progress.

The recruitment process has become a lot more cognizant of the need for a diverse slate of candidates and an equally diverse interview board.

We generally find that we have a balanced mix of men and women, therefore, at the entry levels.

The next stage, and where the challenges remain, is retention at the middle to senior level. This is where we find women leaving the industry.

There is more we can do here to ensure that we provide more support and greater flexibility, which allow women to balance their personal as well as professional goals.

We conduct maternity support programs and educational series for expecting and new mothers, covering a range of topics from navigating their fertility journey to pregnancy and return to work.

Furthermore, our benefit initiatives, inclusion networks, and male allyship programs are designed to support the immediate and long-term well-being of colleagues in all locations to help them be successful at work.

What message do you have for young women aspiring to leadership roles in finance and your hopes for their future?

There has never been a better time to join the financial sector. The industry has evolved and continues to improve, and awareness around creating a level playing field where both women and men can succeed has never been higher.

My top tips for young leaders are to build a team that complements your weaknesses so that you can focus on your strengths.

To be a strategic advisor and relationship banker, you need to be well-read and differentiate yourself. And finally, you need to network and cultivate relationships.
In a competitive environment like banking, the day-to-day intensity and demand for precision, correctness, and urgency are high.

Learn to prioritize, focus on delivering quality and value to your clients, stay calm under pressure, and strive for work-life balance for yourself and your team.

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