The extraordinary events of the past few weeks have understandably relegated Women’s History Month to the proverbial back burner. The month-long celebration serves as an opportunity to recognize women’s accomplishments, contributions and progress, while acknowledging that work remains to empower, promote and advance women in the workplace and society. Mizuho’s commitment to D&I and gender equality is evidenced by the fact that women are leading several important businesses across Banking, Equities and Fixed Income, and other women play important parts in shaping our business. 

In my role as head of the Banking Division for Mizuho Americas, I am in a unique place to pay it forward and create opportunities for women by advocating for changes in mindset for hiring and advancement, fighting stigmas and bringing others along in the quest to break glass ceilings and open doors for women in their professional journeys.

As we are still in March, I wanted to celebrate the amazing and unstoppable women of Mizuho Americas by hearing why the month matters to them, and what empowers them. Here are some of their inspiring thoughts:

“Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the many great women who shaped America’s early history and who may not have been celebrated at the time, including Abigail Adams and Eliza Hamilton. I am inspired by the courage and convictions of Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman. And, I am appreciative of the many women leaders I have worked with on Wall Street including Susan Decker, former President of Yahoo, Joan Solotar, Head of Private Wealth at Blackstone, and Cathie Wood, Founder of Ark Invest. Most importantly, I feel very fortunate to work with so many successful women building our business here at Mizuho.” – Darlene Pasquill, Head of Equity Division

“Who are your heroes? When faced with this question recently, I was at pains to answer. Boldface names came to mind who inspire me, but are not my heroes. My heroes are instead the unsung women who defy the odds to fulfill their destinies, to attain a goal because it is the right thing to do, and in so doing enrich the lives of those around them.” – Susan Gilbertson, Director of US Equity Research

“Women have long awaited a seat at the table. Today, many of us hold positions that make a difference. Let’s continue to offer opportunities that encourage all women to be their best self, and equally inspire them to rise to the challenges that come with this responsibility.” – Shirley Liu, Head of Derivatives Risk Solutions

“Liberty is a key value to me. The men and women that crafted the 19th amendment 100 years ago, and the men and women of today, have liberty as a common theme. Liberty was the building block of the suffragette movement and liberty today enables freedom of expression and restriction from bias, and the ability to inspire the people around us through understanding and awareness. To me, that singular word, embodies what this nation is about and what I celebrate as an individual and with my community.” – Diane Ferguson, Head of Financial Institutions Group, Banking Division

“When I began working at Mizuho in 2006, the number of women overall, and especially in leadership positions, was a fraction of what it is today. Women are now playing prominent roles across all our businesses and corporate functions and we have a strong bench of junior talent. As we have grown as an organization, women have propelled our business forward, in large part due to the inclusive culture which has been created and maintained.” – Liz Ceisler, Deputy Chief HR Officer

“As we all navigate these truly historic times, it’s important now more than ever to demonstrate how we, as women leaders, can help others persevere through unchartered territory, for which there is no map. Each day, I see my fellow colleagues rising to the occasion, and I’m proud to work with strong, empowering, disrupting women who play a vital role in our business. Together, we are leading our organization through this difficult time with confidence, character, and the compassion our firm has for its people, clients, and the community.” – Cheryl Gilberg, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer

“In the midst of the current COVID-19 crisis, Women’s History Month is taking on an even deeper meaning, reminding us of the historical importance of courage, leadership and helping others to overcome adversity. I am inspired by the character, resilience and commitment of my colleagues at Mizuho, whose demonstrated leadership serves as a motivating force.” – Lesley Palmer, Head of Community Relations

“There are so many women in history, whether it be sports, business or academia that have sacrificed and fought to enable us the opportunities we have today, to be successful. We must carry the torch on behalf of the next generation and the little girls out there who want to do extraordinary things. Because they will! ” – Bernadette Murphy, TMT, Banking Division

“This is a great time to reflect on the impact of women in our lives and our careers. I am grateful for my own support system of women colleagues, clients and even competitors who have encouraged and pushed me along the way. I strive to do the same for those in my network and for those who need a network.” – Sarah Kanes, Real Estate Group, Banking Division

“Women persevering is a very personal thing for me, which always prompts the same warm thought – my grandmother. She was far from a famous trailblazer – a simple, salt of the earth immigrant with little education, widowed early in life with 8 children (6 girls). She held three jobs at once which were not at all glamorous – and still fed every mouth, and wiped every tear. Her grit, values and determination did not dawn on me until much later in my life. She paved the way for all of the women she raised, myself included. Her story echoes across generations of American women and the older I get, the more I am humbled by her wisdom and sacrifice.” – Laurie McCoo, Consumer Group, Banking Division

“Women’s History Month is a celebration of our predecessors who have paved the way for success and provided inspiration. However, it is also an acute reminder to myself that it is my responsibility to return the favor for women of the next generation, and to lead with example.” – Jee-Won Yang, Corporate Finance Advisory, Banking Division

“Incredible trailblazing women have paved the way to create opportunities for women of today. It is the personal and professional women in my life who amaze me with their passion, determination and endless drive. We must continue to inspire, support and challenge each other to be our best.” – Melissa Mendel, COO Group, Banking Division

“Women’s History Month is an opportunity to focus on the many contributions women have made to the world – from politics to academia to business, the list goes on and on. These stories aren’t always widely covered in the “official” history books. For me, March serves as a reminder to thank the women business leaders who serve as my role models, acknowledge the men who are allies and pay it forward to the many super talented young women who have promising careers in front of them.” – Michelle Carroll, COO Group, Banking Division

“When we look back on this month many years from now, we’ll feel immense pride knowing the women of Mizuho – leaders, teammates, mothers, wives, daughters and friends – contributed to the sustainability and success of Mizuho during such an unsettling time. A pandemic can’t break our spirit, it is only making it stronger. We are all heroes this Women’s History Month.” – Liz Weissman, Human Resources, and Eva Chan, Human Resources

“I’m reminded of the strength and resilience of women every day, but even more so during uncertain times like these. Women form the backbone of our economy, but for too long have been underrepresented in the financial industry. At Mizuho, I’m inspired by my fellow women colleagues and the men who support us, as we work together to achieve a gender equal workplace.” – Casey Waltz, Social Media & Digital Strategy 

“Women’s History Month allows me to reflect on the contributions of trailblazing women before us and the women of today. These women give me inspiration and confidence to strive for my full potential on a daily basis. This month serves as an important reminder for today’s women to continue promoting an environment that motivates rising women and provides them the opportunity to succeed.” – Kelly Petit de Mange, TMT, Banking Division