How 1 Company Uses ERGs to Attract, Develop and Retain the ‘Best and Brightest'

Sponsored by Mizuho Americas

Mizuho Americas employees.

Photo courtesy of Mizuho Americas.

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June 22, 2024 at 10:21PM UTC

Kinnary Armstrong is an executive director and senior banker at Mizuho Americas, a leading provider of a broad range of financial services, including investment and corporate banking, lending, custody, treasury services, research and capital markets solutions. The financial firm is also a leader in DE&I.

“We are very fortunate that our senior leadership is extremely supportive of our employee resource group (ERG) and DE&I initiatives,” Armstrong says of the company. “Our senior leaders attend and participate in ERG events and are actively and genuinely engaged with ERG leadership — they are committed to supporting our efforts.” Armstrong herself is the co-chair of the Mizuho Women’s Initiatives Network (M-WIN) in the Americas.

Further, Armstrong adds that Mizuho is committed to cultivating and preserving a culture of diversity and inclusion, by encouraging, supporting and celebrating the diverse voices of their employees.

“We believe that attracting, developing and retaining the best and brightest from all backgrounds is essential to our success and recognize that differences help us fuel innovation, better support our clients and connect us more closely with the communities we serve,” she explains.

That’s why Mizuho boasts five voluntary, employee-led and employee-driven resource groups in support of women, the LGBTQ+ community, those of African descent, those of Asian/Pacific Islander descent and those of Hispanic heritage. These groups develop training initiatives, speaker events and cultural appreciation and educational programs, and they partner with community organizations for volunteer opportunities.

Here, we caught up with Armstrong to learn more about the ERGs, her involvement in them and how Mizuho supports them.

Tell me a bit about how ERGs work at Mizuho Americas.

The ERGs are employee-led and employee-driven, as such, they have a lot of self-governing autonomy to determine and direct their own charters. However, to ensure continuity across the groups, each has a similar basic framework consisting of distinct committees dedicated to: Community Engagement, Enrichment, Talent Outreach, and Programming. 

M-WIN was our first ERG and is set up with a steerco leadership team made up of seventeen women serving in roles as advisors, co-leads, chief of staff (communications and treasurer), communications support and the committee leads. They meet monthly and collaborate closely with our DE&I, corporate communications and marketing, events, facilities, human resources, community relations and strategic sourcing teams. 

Could you tell us more about M-WIN?

I joined M-WIN in 2016 after I heard about the network from senior women within my division who were actively involved. After attending many of the network’s events, including professional development seminars, lunch & learns with internal and external speakers, holiday networking receptions, and other opportunities to meet women from across the firm, I decided to become more actively involved as a member of the group’s leadership. It has been a wonderful experience, professionally and personally, meeting women whom I otherwise would not come across in my day-to-day routine.

What has your ERG accomplished that you’re most proud of?

M-WIN was able to engage our members firm-wide during the pandemic, when everyone was 100% remote. I am especially proud that we were able to put on targeted events that were well attended virtually, such as livestream speaker series and virtual wine tastings with senior management across the firm, including with our president, Jerry Rizzieri, and our business line heads. We wanted employees to continue to feel supported during what was a particularly challenging period of time for many women and families.

How is your Mizuho Americas’ women’s network or ERG reflective of the overall culture?

M-WIN and our other ERGs are reflective of the appreciation for a diverse employee population and how we want to nurture an environment where all employees have mutual trust and respect for each other, can hold healthy and open discussions and proactively take on new challenges and consider different perspectives.

What do you know about Mizuho Americas’ other diversity & inclusion programs, outside of ERGs?

Diversity, equity and inclusion are top of mind for our senior leadership, and one way this manifests outside of ERGs is through our recruiting efforts (both entry-level and professional hires). I participate in Mizuho’s on-campus recruiting efforts, and we, as a firm, view diversity recruiting as a key pillar of our culture. 

Mizuho is also one of the very few firms on Wall Street that have women running two of the three major business lines — our Head of Investment & Corporate Banking, Michal Katz, and head of equities, Darlene Pasquill, are both women who inspire, mentor and lead our employees.

Personally, how have you used your role to help bring up other women behind you? How do you build time into your schedule for this kind of work?

Banking is an apprenticeship business, whereby you learn by doing, observing and listening. The women that I manage are involved in everything that I do on a day to day basis — from listening in on client calls and attending client meetings to running complex financial models and negotiating terms. The key to this apprenticeship model is inclusion. I am 100% focused on making sure that women on my team (and men for that matter) are included in all parts of the business.

Why do you believe Mizuho Americas is a particularly supportive place for women employees?

While we are continuing to develop a supportive environment for women and continually look for ways to reinforce the company’s commitment to an inclusive culture, Mizuho is particularly proud of:

  • Our female leadership, with three women running our banking, equities and research divisions.

  • The recognition by Markets Choice Women in Finance Awards and the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index (in each case, for five years in a row).

  • How M-WIN led to the formation of our other four ERGs.

Through these examples and continued progress, Mizuho is building a culture where women and everyone else can be comfortable bringing their full selves to work and expressing their individuality as one of their strengths. Promoting equity of opportunity and having an inclusive culture, where diversity in all its forms is welcomed and diverse perspectives and values are incorporated into our daily working practices and decision making, are key to achieving this aim.

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