Linda Allison

As Interviewed by Porter Gregg, March 16, 2019

Linda Allison: In Her Own Words

Thank you for being here today, I am joined by grandmother and we are going to be doing an interview on social injustice specifically based on sexism. I will let her introduce herself.

Thank you Porter, I appreciate having the opportunity to be with you. My name is Linda Allison, I am 63 years old, I was born in Springfield, Missouri, grew up in the suburbs of Saint Louis, Missouri. But have lived in Houston, Texas since 1977. I am currently employed by Chase Bank, where I’ve been since July of 1985. In my current position, I am sales and strategy project manager for the National Cash Management division of Chase Business Banking.

Okay, So do you have any events where you were treated differently based solely on gender?

You know, when I think back over the course of my career I can think of a number of instances. Particularly early in my career where in fact that was the case. As an example, back in the late 80s I was employed by a bank organization that had twelve locations in Houston. Ten of those locations were run by men, two by women, I was one of those women. All ten of the men were classified as president, the two women were classified as something lesser, as manager. A little later in my career in the early 2000s I was one of three area managers for Business Banking for a local bank in Houston. My manager, a man, always gave the plum, more visible opportunities to my counterparts, both men.

So what did you do about that?

So I created my own opportunities to stand out and demonstrate my leadership ability. For example, I started a leadership program for young bankers within the organization.

One instance that I will always recall, dates back to when my sister and I were both in middle school. My sister decided that she wanted to take shop as an elective. The request had to go all the way to the district office for consideration. Because then, shop wasn’t viewed as an appropriate elective for girls. Her request was approved, and she was, as a result, the first girl in one of the largest school districts in Saint Louis, Missouri, to take a shop class.

So Porter, when I think about social justice I really have to consider myself something of a living example of social justice. I came up in my career at a time when views of women were changing rapidly, particularly as it relates to the role of women in the workplace. I won’t say that I was “given” opportunities. Never. I worked very hard to consistently do more and better than my male counterparts just to put myself on something of an footing with them. But at least I was in a situation that allowed me to do that and there was a certain willingness to allow me to earn new opportunities and advancements based on my outperforming my male counterparts. I don’t believe such opportunities or that acceptance existed even a decade before.

If you are going to do a project on social justice and gender issues, I think it’s important that you acknowledge the great strides our society has made in the last couple of decades to recognize and value women, their potential, and their contributions. Does there remain inequality in pay and in the number of women in very senior leadership positions? Absolutely. However, change -- particularly social change -- doesn’t happen with a flip of the switch. It is an evolution. And it takes time. Where I work, senior leadership actively and deliberately looks to hire women and individuals of color into management and leadership roles. In fact, two of the last three CEOs for Chase Business Banking have been women. I think over time we will see more women in very senior leadership positions. In fact, I believe your mother will be one of them.

Thank you for taking the time to be here, I appreciate it.