BY JESSE JACKSON
October 20, 2014
Wall Street may lead America in financial rewards, but it is a laggard when it comes to diversity. The lack of diversity among its CEOs and managing partners is notorious. Now a survey by Vettery, a recruiting firm, reports that the Street fails the test among its first year hires as well. It isn’t only skewed at the top; it is failing to build the pipeline that might change that in the future.
Vittery reports that first-year bankers are more than 3/4 men unchanged from 2013 and nearly 2/3 white. Twenty-nine percent are Asian, while African-Amerians and Hispanics make up a paltry 6 percent. Sallie Krawcheck, former executive of Citibank and Bank of America who now runs the women’s network Ellevate, concludes that banks went into the financial crisis white, male and middle -aged and came out whiter, male-er and middle age-er.
The bank with the highest percentage of blacks and Hispanics was JPMorgan Chase with 13 percent; Morgan Stanley was close with 12 percent. The worst was DeutscheBank. Both DeutscheBank and Barclays challenged Vettery’s figures as inaccurate, but refused to provide their own figures on their incoming hires.
Silicon Valley, another powerhouse American industry, has been exposed for its lack of diversity, but it turns out Wall Street is worse. And Silicon Valley firms have taken real steps to correct their reality; Wall Street seems still to be largely in denial.
We know all the reasons behind this lack of diversity.
African-Americans and Hispanics are less likely to have a family history in banking, or inherit a ton of money. They are less likely to have the family contacts, the shared experiences and associations. When they or women are aggressive, that might be seen more as threatening and unattractive than the same behavior exhibited by white men. Bigotry is no longer acceptable, but unconscious bias still governs significant behavior. That is why affirmative actions are vital if old barriers are to be broken down.
One question is whether the government will begin to investigate these patterns, enforcing equal opportunity laws, engaging the SEC regulatory powers and more. Wall Street should be particularly targeted for tough regulation. Their excesses blew up the economy. They got bailed out, while homeowners were left to fend for themselves. As Mitt Romney showed us, they take advantage of a range of tax breaks and dodges, leaving billionaires paying lower tax rates than their secretaries.
They shouldn’t pocket all these subsidies and benefits without at the very least opening their doors to women and minorities.
Diversity isn’t just a moral and legal imperative. It is good business, too. America is soon to become majority minority. Those institutions that reflect the diversity of their customers are more likely to thrive than those who isolate themselves. And Wall Street, like Silicon Valley, is a global industry. America’s strength is its diversity. If Wall Street keeps the doors shut to a majority of Americans and a majority of the world, it may find itself shut out of more and more opportunities.
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