The Wall Street Journal reported today that Jane Fraser will soon step in as CEO of Citigroup Inc, the holding company of Citibank. She will succeed current CEO Michael Corbat when he moves into retirement this upcoming February and she will become the first female CEO of a major Wall Street bank.
Fraser will assume the role after 16 years with Citigroup, during which time she ran the bank's strategy division, oversaw the Latin American divisions, ran Citigroup's consumer bank, and recently oversaw the bank's emergency pandemic response. She was a longtime frontrunner for the position, and by 2021, a major Wall Street bank will be led by a woman.
In a press release that announced the next CEO, Fraser said, "Citi is an incredible institution with a proud history and a bright future. I am excited to join with my colleagues in writing the next chapter."
While we can all agree that it would be best to live in a world where it's not news for a woman to take a leadership role, this announcement recalls a certain artfully-crafted tweet from around 2017. The context: Trump's Muslim ban and ICE's detention centers were front of mind and some advocates for the latter's abolition began to break into the mainstream. That tweet became the "hire more women guards" meme and is a perfect illustration of just how absurd it is to celebrate a woman's accomplishment, just because it's a woman's accomplishment.
Citigroup was among the many banks the government bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis, despite its role in creating it. It recently had to pay just $6.5 million in fines for failing to guide student debtors through the proper paperwork to save on their taxes, for charging incorrect late fees, overstating monthly payments, and other illegal servicing practices. In short, Citigroup is a major conglomerate, doing major conglomerate things in an endless quest to generate and hoard wealth.
After the recent workplace reckonings and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, we've grown increasingly skeptical of "girlboss" logic: Just because a woman made the decision, founded the company, or chose a specific course of action, doesn't mean it's beyond criticism. And it certainly doesn't mean it serves other women. Citigroup with a woman at the helm will still be Citigroup.