'I Love My Job’: How I Pivoted From Being a Banking Lawyer to Head of DE&I

Sponsored by Mizuho Americas

Jean MacInnes

Image courtesy of Mizuho Americas.

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July 16, 2024 at 4:30PM UTC

Welcome to I Love My Job, the series where we hear from real women who really love their jobs. In this edition, we sat down with Jean MacInnes, Managing Director and Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Mizuho Americas

When MacInnes started at Mizuho three years ago, she was an attorney for the banking division. However, her background also included a lifetime’s worth of experience in DE&I. “For example, I've been a member of practically every affinity group at every institution between college, law school, law firms and banks,” notes MacInnes. “And I've continued to do pro bono work throughout my law career to create equitable access to legal services. It's been a common thread in everything I do.”

So, when she was offered her dream job of leading DE&I efforts at Mizuho, MacInnes jumped at the privilege of working in this space full-time. Despite the big leap away from the legal profession, MacInnes took the change in stride, describing it as “getting back to my roots.”

And, there is no place she’d rather make this transition than at Mizuho, where the people and values are her favorite part of the company. “There's a lot of people here that really inspire me, so I just hope to do them right and inspire them back,” says MacInnes. “I do think it's a luxury to be surrounded by that, and I try not to take that for granted.”

As for the company culture, MacInnes emphasizes how hard Mizuho endeavors to do the right thing — even when it’s not easy, they always find balance. “We are flexible and open, and really want to try to get to the right place,” she says.

Curious about learning more about MacInnes’ career journey, how Mizuho supports employee work-life balance and more? Check out the video below. We also share highlights from this video discussion in the following article.

What excites you the most about your new role?

I'm excited to really make a difference and enact impactful initiatives that don’t just make good business sense, but that reflect the values of this company and our employees. We have such strong management support, and enthusiastic grassroots support. In fact, once I stepped into this role it didn’t take long before lots of folks were coming up to me saying they want to get involved in these efforts, but just don't know how. 

It really takes a village, and everyone has something to offer, so I'm really excited to bridge those skill sets and good intentions with executable actions. 

How would you describe the culture at Mizuho?

The company is very entrepreneurial and in growth mode. We recently aligned our businesses in a corporate and investment banking structure and have been entering new lines of business, attracting top talent, and moving up the league tables. But we're a relatively smaller shop for an investment bank So everyone pitches in, we don't focus on silos.... We all have roles and responsibilities, for sure, but we're not limited to them. We really like to hear from everyone

For a time, I was the lawyer in the room. But I'm also an employee, a colleague, a woman, a mom, a working mom and a working mom of teens — I feel like that should be a whole category in itself — a middle-aged person, a Person of Color and a caretaker. So, for example, when we were in the room talking about COVID-19 policies, I'm not just giving legal advice, I'm giving Jean's perspective. We want to be a firm that identifies skill sets, and, where there's an opportunity, we can match that up. My role change is a great example of that! It’s also tied into the Japanese culture of rotations at a company. We don't want to limit folks — we are entrepreneurial! People can move around and take initiative. You're not locked in, and we're very open to that.

How does Mizuho support you in managing work-life balance?

Mizuho had a good policy toward work-life balance before the pandemic. However, since the pandemic, we, like many other companies, are reevaluating the role of the office. For many employees, we found that a hybrid schedule works well. We ask that people use their home days to tend to email and admin aspects of their jobs, and plan meetings and interaction for office days. I think hybrid is the new reality, and it’s here to stay. 

Full at-home IT setups for our traders and our corporate teams, staggered commute times and a hybrid work-from-home program, is frankly life-changing for most people. Depending on your department, you can work 2-3 days per week. And this has really allowed so much more flexibility to everyone’s day, certainly for working parents, but really for everyone. 

We also see the value of in-person contact, having the ability to pop in with a quick question, see more than just head and shoulders on a screen, and the happenstance hallway conversations that spark new ideas. Things you don't get when you're all virtual.

So, I think hybrid is the best of both worlds… and that it has really been helpful in letting a lot of people realize a work-life balance they might never have dreamed of before.

What advice would you give to other women who are thinking about working at Mizuho?

Reach out and make connections. Not all women are the same or want the same thing, so, wherever you go, you really want to make sure it's the right fit.

Connect with us on Fairygodboss, on LinkedIn, through our HR department and website. Look up our available opportunities and see if there's something there that interests you. Sign up for an interview, but also interview us. Are we small enough? Are we big enough? What do we do to support women? Are those the things that speak to you or apply to you? Are there women role models that model what you want? Do we lead by example? Are our values aligning with yours and aligning with your personal and professional goals? 

I do think we do a great job of supporting women, but we're still working on that. We're open to ideas. We want to do more. We need to be flexible to these changing needs… 

If you want to join an organization where ideas are welcomed, [where] you can be on the ground floor of suggesting change and ideas, collaborating with a lot of great partners with their own diverse perspectives and then executing them with very supportive senior management, then look at us. This is what we do and these are the employees we want.

Want to grow your career by joining Mizuho? Apply to jobs via the link below!

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