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For the upcoming edition of Rotman Management Magazine, Executive-in-Residence, Vanessa Serra Iarocci speaks to Karen Christensen about her experience utilizing design thinking principles to solve the gender gap in business.

Please read the excerpt below or the full interview here.

A couple of years ago, as an executive with one of the big banks, you were involved in the Rotman School’s study of Canadian women as a consumer group in financial services. What were the key findings?

The first is that the financial industry – despite good intentions – is still underserving female investors. And secondly, female investors want an investing experience that is differentiated from that of men – and the solution to that problem is simpler than anyone might think. The women in the study told us that it isn’t about different products or big marketing campaigns targeting them – it’s about talking to them about their finances in ways that matter to them.

We also found that in some areas of banking, there were no gender differentiators whatsoever. On the one hand, you want to take the needs of women into account, but on the other, you don’t want to make assumptions and engage in ‘pink marketing,’ either. This topic has always been a passion point for me. Thinking back to my time as an undergraduate Commerce student at the University of Toronto, I was very involved in gender-related initiatives. In my work, I am always mindful about taking the needs of women into account whenever it’s warranted. We should all try to make sure that in our daily interactions, we’re not bringing unconscious biases to bear.

Read the full interview here.