Bank of America is partnering with Athena Alliance, the digital community of top executive women, to diversify its membership base and committing $100,000 to Athena’s newly formed Access Fellowship Fund. The bank’s funding will be specifically aimed at increasing the number of women of color into Athena, helping to advance their careers.
“To effectively remove barriers to equality and create meaningful progress, it’s critical to focus on and address areas where systemic, long-term gaps have and continue to exist,” said Sheri Bronstein, chief human resources officer at Bank of America. “Our partnership with Athena Alliance enables us to expand our impact by creating development and exposure opportunities to ensure multicultural women not only have a platform for their voices to be heard, but ultimately have access to tools, networks and pathways to more senior positions.”
Bank of America’s partnership with Athena will sponsor 240 multicultural women, allowing them to become a member of Athena Alliance at no cost and giving them access to the broad range of development tools and learning resources included in the Access Fellowship. Among the women participating, up to half will be top multicultural talent from within Bank of America who have participated in the bank’s Women’s Next Level Leadership Program, an eight-month virtual development experience providing strategies and tactics to help women of color progress their careers.
“We believe the demographics at the top of business need to mimic the demographics of the society business serves. To do this, Athena’s goal is to have 40% of its membership comprised of underrepresented women,” said Athena Founder and CEO Coco Brown. “Our partnership with Bank of America will enable us to diversify the women we support by sponsoring more women of color into our program. We’re thrilled that the bank has stepped up to take a leadership role in this effort.”
The women joining Athena through the Access Fellowship will be fully integrated into the Athena platform of community, learning and opportunity. In addition, Athena will be hiring a community leader to oversee the fellowship’s execution and to design specialized programming for this cohort.
“We’re committed to championing these women and addressing their needs, while honoring their collective wisdom and power in helping Athena shape and influence equity in the C-suite and the modern boardroom,” said Brown.
Bank of America’s commitment to diversity starts at the top with its board of directors and CEO who chairs its Global Diversity and Inclusion Council. The bank also has 11 Employee Networks, comprised of more than 300 chapters and over 160,000 memberships worldwide. These networks – such as LEAD (Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Development) for Women and BPG (Black Professional Group) – help the company’s teammates develop leadership skills, build ties with local communities and advance diversity recruitment.
Bank of America’s board of directors is 47% diverse – two directors are African American; one is Hispanic; and six are women. Additionally, the company’s global management team is 50% diverse, and more than 50% of its global workforce are women. More than 45% of the company’s U.S.-based workforce are people of color.
Bank of America’s partnership with Athena builds on the company’s many resources that focus on the recruitment, retention and advancement of diverse talent. This new partnership is aligned to the bank’s recent $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance work underway to help advance racial equality and economic opportunity, particularly for people and communities of color.
Athena offers women access to a community of support for every level of their senior leadership careers. Women join Athena to prepare for board director service and to become stronger, more confident leaders as they rise through the executive ranks to the C-suite, to partner at investor firms, or as a founder and CEO. Members choose from three levels of membership: Self-Service, Concierge Service, or Coaching Accelerators, all yearlong one-on-one coaching programs targeted to a member’s goal. All Athena members receive curated networking, member-to-member mentorship, virtual salon events, and access to a wide range of opportunities, such as board seats, executive roles, and speaking engagements.
Athena’s success is also seen across its corporate and investor partner community. Brands such as Microsoft, Intuit, the U.S. Postal Service and Autodesk have outsourced their senior leadership development by sending their top female leaders through the Athena executive development program. Additionally, investment firms turn to Athena for its deep network of talent, leveraging the community for board seats, the voice of the customer, exclusive attendees at events, and more.
Athena is a community platform that brings together women leaders, investors, CEOs, board directors, and corporations in one global, digital ecosystem. Women join Athena for executive coaching, board opportunities, exclusive events, one-on-one mentorship, and more. Athena also guides CEOs, venture firms and corporations to evolve their approach to senior leadership development, to strengthen their boards, and to access the world’s top female leaders.
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Joanna Furlong, Athena Alliance
Liz Wright, Bank of America