IMD Women in Finance - IMD Business School
News Stories · Finance Leadership

IMD launches new fellowship to help break the glass ceiling in finance

The fellowship program is designed to help outstanding women in the field of finance take their skills, knowledge, and career to the next level.
February 2023

While increasing numbers of women are pursuing finance careers, they are still far outnumbered by men, particularly in executive roles. To try to redress this imbalance and contribute to a more diverse and gender equitable business world, IMD has launched a new Women in Finance Fellowship. 

The fellowship provides up to 20% sponsorship on IMD’s Strategic Finance program and is open to female professionals who have more than 10 years’ experience in financial services and a proven track record of achievement and impact. 

“Progress toward gender equity is too slow, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields such as finance,” said Professor David Bach, Dean of Innovation and Programs at IMD. “With this initiative, we are not only hoping to make a small contribution to accelerate change, but we also believe that all program participants will benefit from more diverse voices and perspectives.” 

IMD decided to introduce the new fellowship when data showed that only 19% of participants in its Strategic Finance program over the past five years were women, with the ratio even lower among the most senior roles, said Head of Impact Johanna Leppävirta. 

“We are working to increase the number of women across all of our programs and are making meaningful progress,” she said. “But our own statistics and follow up research showed that the gap was particularly large in our finance-focused offering and encouraged us to think of bolder ways to move the needle.” 

The proportion of women in senior leadership roles and in the C-suite at financial services firms is just 9%, according to a 2021 Deloitte study and was projected to rise to just 14% by 2030. IMD’s Chief Financial Officer Peggy Le Roux believes one reason for the lack of women at the top is because they are underrepresented in financial controller positions – often a steppingstone to an executive role.  

“I believe organizations have fantastic accountants who, with the right training, could become great controllers and be well placed to take up senior leadership positions in finance,” she said. 

IMD’s Strategic Finance program is designed to equip finance professionals with an understanding of the latest financial and economic trends, challenges, concepts, and tools. Deeply practical, executives work on challenges they are facing in their current roles and receive feedback and advice from participants. 

A better balance in representation across genders has been shown to broaden perspectives and drive better decision making, said Program Director Professor Salvatore Cantale. 

“The relationship between women on boards and/or in top management positions and the financial performance of companies has been well established for many years. Yet we continue to see women underrepresented at the top,” he said. “IMD is proud to offer fellowships to qualified female professionals and I look forward to working with them.” 

Women in Finance - IMD Business School

To apply for the fellowship, candidates must submit an essay describing their professional trajectory and what contribution they would make to foster female talent in the finance sector. This essay should be submitted alongside their application for the program. 

Successful candidates are expected to act as ambassadors in their organizations and communities for executive-level finance training and be prepared to join efforts to work for a more inclusive and gender-equitable future.  

More information on the application criteria and the Women in Finance Fellowship can be found here.