Money banks award... but targets change for women in wealth

How one of Canada's 100 most powerful women is paying it forward

Money banks award... but targets change for women in wealth

It’s no small feat to be named one of the most powerful women in Canada. And while certainly a point of pride for anyone who achieves it, Money also sees it as a cause for contemplation.

“I'm really humbled by the recognition. But it does come with a certain sense of responsibility,” the executive vice-president & chief information and technology innovation officer at Sun Life told Wealth Professional.

Recently, Money was named among Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 by the Women's Executive Network (WXN) for her innovative leadership, strategic building of Sun Life's digital capabilities, and her exemplary advocacy for diversity in the workplace and across STEM industries. Oricia Smith, president, SLGI Asset Management Inc. and senior vice-president, Investment Solutions, Sun Life Canada, was also among this year’s luminaries.

Read more: A journey toward meaning

“If I'm one of Canada's most powerful women,” Money says, “then I'm one of just 100 who are in a unique position to create change and help other women achieve their goals as well.”

Looking back at her 30-plus years of experience in finance and technology, Money says she had no senior female in executive positions to look up to starting out. She didn’t even imagine that she could be a CIO, because she didn’t have a role model to follow.

What she did have, however, was a core-deep love for learning, and a conviction that doing a good job and enjoying your work was a good thing. With that passion, she carved a progressively upward path that took her through technology roles at BMO and CIBC.

On the way, Money says she was fortunate to encounter supportive women leaders who provided her support and opportunities, as well as male leaders who saw her potential and pushed her forward. Most recent among those was Kevin Strain, president and CEO of Sun Life, who made the decision to hire her into the organization two and a half years ago.

“He really took a chance on me,” Money says. “I feel very fortunate to have worked in supportive organizations, with leaders who believe in allyship and the importance of diversity, because I know it’s not the experience that everybody has had.”

At Sun Life, Money says there’s a true organizational drive toward diversity, with key performance indicators to measure it in terms of numbers of women, visible minorities, LGBTQ, and other diverse groups at different levels. Among numerous commitments, she says, is a goal to reach gender parity at VP and executive roles by 2025, with 25% being visible minorities.

Read more: The power of women and men working together

“In the past two years, we've been able to double the number of women leaders in the Digital and Business Technology Group, and about 40% of our IT workforce is women,” Money says. “So, I feel like we're making progress.”

Today, Money is using her position in the organization to help develop the next generation of tech leaders. She keeps an eye out for promising young women, whom she offers opportunities to work on different teams for short periods of time. Through that so-called “gig program,” the young high-potentials have the opportunity to build the kind of presence, visibility, and expertise that they might not otherwise be able to develop until much later in their careers.

“I always encourage everyone to learn. I commit to two hours a week of learning, and I try to model that behaviour and talk about it quite a lot so people in my team are encouraged to do it,” she says. “From a hiring standpoint, we always do panel interviews rather than just one-on-one, because it’s been proven that panels reduce the possibility of bias in recruitment decisions.”

From an industry standpoint, Money believes there needs to be a greater push for diversity and representation. Firms have a role to drive that movement from the top, she suggests, because of the energy and time needed to build an inclusive workforce and support the education needed to sustain it.

“When people see people like them in a particular job, they’re more likely to identify with it, and that will keep them more engaged,” she says. “And when you’re engaging with diverse groups, to build your workforce, think about it from their perspective: are you making your firm an attractive place to work from the perspective of the people that you want representation from?

“I think representation really is critical to our success,” Money says. “Our clients, our sponsors, the people we work with represent the demographic makeup not just of Canada, but every market that we work in. So I think the people making the decisions around how we design our products and services should reflect the population that we’re trying to serve.”