Synchrony Financial CEO: Want Women CEOs? Develop Female Leaders First

As the saying goes, you can be anything you want to be in this world—but it certainly helps when you can be inspired by leaders who resemble you.

Margaret Keane, CEO of consumer financial services company Synchrony Financial, believes that it is important to develop women leaders inside her firm. The company’s diversity initiative focuses on all levels of the firm: its board of directors, its mid-level managers, and its entry-level employees.

Keane is one of the 24 women to lead a Fortune 500 company (Synchrony landed at No. 173 in 2018). The daughter of a New York City police officer, Keane kicked off her career by working in a call center, then powered her way up to the c-suite. Keane says she challenged the belief that you have to have a certain pedigree to be CEO; most of all, “The job requires hard work, tenacity, and the ability to break through,” she tells Fortune.

Having the confidence to achieve greatness is the first step, but it doesn’t come easy if you’re in the minority. “Women are still second-guessing themselves,” says Keane, who feels that it is her responsibility to pave the way for future female leaders. “I can’t fix everything that’s happening in the outside world, but I can certainly control what’s happening in our company.”

Watch the video above for more from Fortune’s interview with Keane.

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