Ci Ci Holloway spent the majority of her career working in the diversity and inclusion space in the entertainment industry. But four years ago, she found herself drawn to the financial services. Now Managing Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Americas at UBS, Holloway said she’s working on an exciting new initiative – DROI.
Holloway explained, “Diversity Return On Investment will clearly make the connection between diverse achievements and the impact on the organization – how that ties to the bottom line.”
She continued, “It’s certainly not an easy argument to make, and it gets challenged. But the good thing is that the numbers don’t lie, and we can tie those numbers or new clients to diversity. Showing how a diverse team outperforms a homogenous team will make people rethink how they look at diversity and inclusion in an organization.”
The Willingness and Resources to Change
“My career path is an interesting one,” began Holloway. “I started in HR in entertainment – that means television, film, cable, radio – on both coasts. I transitioned into financial services about 4 years ago – which was maybe not the best time to transition, given the market!”
Why make the change? Holloway said she felt financial services was ahead of the curve on the strategic necessity to include diverse voices. She explained, “It was the willing desire to change. In all of the big organizations within the financial world, people are focused on diversity, with willingness and resources devoted to it. In other industries, it’s an uphill battle. In the financial services, and at UBS in particular, it was something they wanted to do. That was the draw.”
She continued, “The work that I do is the same, but the product is different. In television, the end product is visible on the screen. Here on Wall Street, it’s the same thing – hiring people of difference – but it results in a business situation and often attracting new clients.”
“Financial services is an industry that has had a difficult time attracting women and people of color over the years – and getting women into the workplace is something I’m proud to have achieved over the years,” she said.
Holloway mentioned a women’s leadership conference at UBS which attracted over 300 women, as a particular point of pride. “The goal was for the women to spend an entire day investing in themselves,” she explained, which included networking, dialogue, and access to business leaders the attendees may not have usually had the opportunity to meet.
In her previous industry, Holloway said, her proudest achievement was her help in getting a script to screen for a diverse film that yielded over $100 million.
Looking to the future, Hollaway said she hopes to be in a broader, more global role. She also emphasized the necessity to reach potential talent early.
She explained, “I still feel that in all of the work we do in diversity, our progress is takes time. The intent to move demographics in all ranks can be a slow progress. We should start earlier. We should be reaching out when they are entering college, not graduating. That means educating people on the various careers in financial services industry, but also making sure college students know what they need to do well, as well as have early access to these programs.”
“For all of us to keep drawing from the same well isn’t going to work – we need to deepen that well and cast a wider net. My advice is to start earlier.”
Advice for Women in Financial Services
“One thing I wish I knew about when I was starting my career was the power of sponsorship – the need to have a sponsor and the impact a sponsor can have on your career. Of all of the things I know now that I didn’t know then, this is the most important for women to know. It’s something we need to take advantage of. Actively seek and actively secure sponsorship. It can impact the ongoing development of your career.”
Work/life balance is also a challenge for many women. “When we find the answer, please let me know!” joked Holloway, a mother of a ten-year-old and a twelve-year-old. She continued, “I’m not sure there’s one solution to the work/life balance issue. You have to have a system in place, and you have to be organized. It takes a village. I have a good support system – my mom, family, and friends. You need that system of support to offset demands, and provide a sense of comfort. Who are the people you can draw upon?”
For young people entering the financial services industry, Holloway had several pieces of advice. She said, “Learn as much as you can beyond the traditional requirements of your role. Make it a point to join external organizations and those that have partnerships with your firm. Build a sense of community so you don’t feel isolated. Seek out mentorship and tap into sponsorship. Be very flexible – be willing to take on additional roles, and take on stretch assignments out of your comfort zone.
Women who are in the mid to upper level of their career, she said women need to be focused on their next move. “Focusing on your job should not just mean the job you’re in. Always be looking for stretch assignments. Be putting yourself out there, and be willing to take on other things.”
She continued, “Put your career in your own hands and don’t allow people to assume there are things you cannot do. Communicate to the people who matter.”
Holloway said the best advice she ever received was “not to take life so seriously.”
At UBS, Holloway said there are a number of programs in place to support the advancement and retention of women and people of color. In addition to several recruiting initiatives, Holloway said the company has global partnerships with organizations like Catalyst, SEO, and the Conference Board. Additionally, the firm has retention efforts like mentoring programs and employee networks for women, people of color, LGBT, Veterans, and Working Parents that provide access to senior leaders and encourages a sense of community amongst employees. She also mentioned the UBS’s women’s network All Bar None that is designed to provide a sense of community for women within the Bank.
In Her Spare Time
Outside work, Holloway said, “What I enjoy most is being a mother. My children are my life.” She is also involved with several non-profits dedicated to children and education including Jack and Jill of America. “What gives me passion is being able to shape the minds and growth of a child,” she added.