After giving she had her son, Dorothy Savarese was looking for a job that would allow her to cut back on the frequent traveling that came with her first career in economic development and spend more time with her family.
Having partnered with financial institutions in the past and sharing a similar passion for business growth and community building, the banking industry seemed like a natural fit.
But what started as a way to settle down quickly turned into a thriving career that would see Savarese rise all the way to CEO and president of the $3.2 billion asset Cape Cod Five institution. With her three-plus decades of experience in banking, numerous accolades and strong support for women in the industry, Savarese was an easy pick for the Women of FIRE award.
“Banking became a career and then a passion for me,” she told Banker & Tradesman. “I have seen a positive evolution in the culture of the industry since I first started in banking. So many of my colleagues retain their long-held focus on serving their customers and communities and are now finding new, innovative ways to make that happen.”
Impressive accomplishments are nothing new for Savarese. Last year, American Banker named the Suffolk MBA graduate one of the top 25 most powerful women in banking for the sixth consecutive year.
Savarese’s leadership has led Cape Cod Five to stand out for its commitment to diversity. The bank was named Massachusetts Lender of the Year to Women by the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2016. The bank has also received the highest possible grade for its Community Reinvestment Act performance nine consecutive times.
Savarese last year was chairwoman of the board of directors of the American Bankers Association. She is a former chairwoman of the Massachusetts Bankers Association and a former chairwoman of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
She has also served in various capacities for numerous organizations, including the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council and The Clearing House’s Real Time Payments Advisory Committee.
Having worked in banking since the 1990s, Savarese is no stranger to both the progress women have made in banking as well as the struggles they continue to face daily.
“I have seen a greater awareness of the value of diversity of all kinds, which drives performance and competitiveness,” she said.
But the slow increase in the number of female CEOs and women in the C-Suite is evidence that there are still many barriers obstructing advancement, she said.
“Many of them take the form of unconscious biases. Others relate to pay and performance evaluation methodologies,” she said. “Some relate to informal cultural practices and more. Others relate to work-life balance elements. There are many best practices that can be deployed to break down these barriers and unleash the talent of women in the industry.”