American Express and The New York Women's Foundation Partner Together on The Ambition Project
An open letter from the six women of the American Express Executive Committee reflects on the company’s progress, shares new commitments and programs and calls on leaders everywhere to proudly back women’s ambition.
NEW YORK – February 11, 2020 – Over the past two days, the six of us hosted our fourth Global Women’s Conference. Through a variety of fireside chats, workshops and networking events, we united nearly 250 of the company’s top executives around a common goal – to find meaningful ways to continue advocating for women’s advancement.
Beyond this, the conference was a time to celebrate the incredible strides women and men have made together at American Express.
Our journey began two years ago, when our Executive Committee surveyed the most senior women at our company. Only a third had ever publicly described themselves as ambitious. In addition, while women were well-represented across key senior positions, only one of them reported to the CEO. In that moment, we recognized we needed to talk more openly about how we could fully back our women colleagues in achieving their ambitions.
So, we introduced targeted programming focused on empowering women to own their ambition, including:
● Roundtable sessions with leaders around the globe;
● Networking events to strengthen our community; and
● An internal newsletter to hold ourselves accountable against our progress.
Today, there are six women reporting to the CEO – leading more than 50% of our workforce. Moreover, during the same period women serving on the company’s Board of Directors doubled.
This progress extends across the company:
● More than 100 women have been promoted or joined the company at the executive level or above;
● Eight women, a record number, are currently serving as country managers in key markets; and
● Globally, American Express women are now paid at parity to their male counterparts.
Most importantly, two-thirds of our most senior women now have the confidence to publicly say “I am ambitious.”
We recognize there is still work to do. But, these are meaningful milestones for American Express – demonstrating the power that vocal leadership, a dedicated community and collective ambition can have on women’s overall advancement.
LOOKING AT THE DATA
Today, we are taking our learnings beyond American Express with the launch of Ambitious Insights commissioned by American Express, in partnership with The New York Women’s Foundation – a global study on women’s relationships with ambition.
Our research surveyed professional women around the world and interestingly found that women outside of American Express are facing the same challenges we saw in our internal survey:
● 31 percent said they are proud to call themselves ambitious; and
● 32 percent said they were very confident they could actually achieve those ambitions in their careers.
Beyond this, the external research showed what many of us already feel – ambition is not a simple thing. It exists across many dimensions – we aspire to successful careers, financial independence and skills, while also being healthy, being great parents and having strong personal relationships.
Success in our careers without success in the rest of their lives is not achieving our ambitions...