Support for Women Leaders Crucial to Solving Most Urgent Issues of Our Time, Senior Leaders Tells Guests at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Vital Voices’ Public Forum in London

Mentoring Vital to Developing Skillsets in MENA and Eastern Europe

Wednesday, March 2, 2016 12:09 pm EST

Advancing women’s leadership skills and opportunities is vital to lifting economies and stabilising communities across the world, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch senior executive said Thursday at the Women, Progress and the Global Economy Public Forum in London (#WomenLead).

Anne Finucane, vice chair, Bank of America, said support of women leading businesses and social enterprises – particularly those in regions facing conflict – will promote economic growth and social change. The remarks were made at the Public Forum, part of the Global Ambassadors Program (#GlobalAmbassadors), a week-long mentorship initiative led by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Vital Voices Global Partnership which aims to advance women’s leadership and economic empowerment.

"For every dollar a woman earns, she invests 60 percent back into her family and community, ultimately leading to long-term economic stability,” Finucane stated as part of a keynote conversation with Christiane Amanpour, chief international correspondent, CNN.

Attendees including Global Ambassador Program mentors and mentees heard from senior leaders including Ambassador Melanne Verveer, co-author of “Fast Forward”; Baroness Mary Goudie, member, House of Lords; and Her Excellency Atifete Jahjaga, president, Republic of Kosovo, who highlighted the value that women bring to decision-making in the board room and long-term peace-building.

Ambassador Melanne Verveer stated, “Women are increasingly using their voices, harnessing their power and purpose to create change and promote growth.”

Recognising the importance of mentorship to developing women’s leadership skills, Vital Voices President and CEO Alyse Nelson underlined that mentoring is not just a “soft skill,” but rather a business strategy, noting, “77 percent of Global Ambassadors Program mentees have seen their revenues increase. And we know that those who are mentored are more likely to go on to mentor others.

Ahu Serter, president, Farplas Group and founder of Arya Women’s Investment Platform, reaffirmed this; “We need to support women to become investors and entrepreneurs…by leveraging your business to foster social change, you can start improving the lives of those around you.”

Andrew Plepler, Environmental, Social and Governance executive, Bank of America, highlighted the value of cross-sector partnerships like the Global Ambassadors Program, noting that through the sharing of skills, experiences and resources, progress can be made in addressing pressing challenges, including women’s economic empowerment.

The event was livestreamed and is available to view here.

Notes for editors:

The Global Ambassadors Program is part of Bank of America and Vital Voices’ ongoing commitment to investing in women’s leadership development, a goal guided by the belief that strong leaders are important to healthy, vibrant communities including advancing economic growth. Over time, mentors help their mentees develop critical communications, advocacy and business skills and strategies to advance their work. Since 2012, mentoring programmes have been held in Poland, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Qatar, Singapore, Brazil, India, South Africa, Haiti, Japan and now London, reaching women from more than 40 countries. Future locations will be announced this year.

For more information on the Global Ambassadors Program, visit

Vital Voices
Vital Voices Global Partnership invests in women leaders who improve the world. Founded by then First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and guided by the belief that women are essential to progress in their communities, it has partnered with leaders from more than 140 countries who advance economic opportunity, increase political and public leadership, and end violence against women. Programs in strategic planning, business, advocacy and communications build critical skills needed for creating transformational change at scale. Through its global platform, women leaders expand their connections and visibility, accelerating shared progress for all. Visit to learn more.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Corporate Social Responsibility
Developing solutions for social and economic challenges is at the core of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s responsibility platform. In more than 90 countries around the world, we partner with employees, clients and stakeholders to help make financial lives better. The company focuses on responsible business practices, environmental sustainability, advancing opportunity in local communities through education and employability programmes and investing in global leadership development. We realise the power of our people and value our differences, recognising that our diversity makes us a stronger firm and allows us to better service our stakeholders. By harnessing our intellectual resources, sharing knowledge and connecting capital with need, we are providing opportunities that effect positive change. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter @BofAML.


Reporters May Contact:
Elizabeth Wood, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, +44 (0)20 7995 7731

Ann Hoffman, Vital Voices, 001 703 216 9528