SouthState Female Executives Share Advice, Encouragement During Women-Focused Panel
The four female executives on the panel included Chief Operating Officer Renee Brooks, Chief Risk Officer Beth DeSimone, Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Idell and Director of Human Resources Susan Bagwell. They looked back on the challenges they’ve faced, while looking ahead to what Brooks says is a growing number of opportunities for women in corporate leadership today.
SouthState boasts a workforce that’s 72 percent female. The female executives say a vital part of their role continues to be improving their workplace for women by advocating for benefits like parental leave and critical care leave, as well as removing barriers to career advancement through in-house training. Idell says that the pandemic and shift to work-from-home allowed leadership to see the value of offering flexibility to support working parents.
“We want to empower all leadership to see things through a diverse lens,” Bagwell adds. Executives noted that programs like LEADS, SouthState’s leadership training model, may offer motivation for those women who desire more responsibility but don’t always feel comfortable going after bigger opportunities. Through online courses and virtual collaborative workshops, employees can work at their own pace and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
The women concluded the panel by sharing advice that’s served them well during their careers. Their take on professional growth centered around the idea of continual education. Whether they are new to banking or a veteran of financial services, DeSimone urges women to learn as much as they can about the industry and others in their field. Idell advises employees to learn about themselves, specifically strengths and weaknesses, in order to become a better collaborator and potential leader. Brooks echoes her advice, adding it’s vital to know yourself and your aspirations in order to have honest conversations about the steps needed to reach a desired career goal.
SouthState’s Director of Corporate Stewardship, LeDon Jones, extended his appreciation for this important conversation.
“As we approach the end of celebrating Women’s History Month, I would like to thank this panel of great leaders for sharing their stories and providing good advice. Just by listening, I have learned a lot from each of these leaders and appreciate their perspectives around leadership, as well as diversity and inclusion. This truly is a must-hear discussion!”