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from Breakingviews:

White male banker jabs at finance’s glass ceiling

By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

A white male banker is trying to tackle the finance industry’s glass ceiling. HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver has spent the past few years trying to cut costs and raise ethical standards. Now he wants the bank to change its culture in order to attract and retain more senior women. Though the insight is hardly new, it’s significant that a male CEO is publicly acknowledging the problem.

In a speech to the Women’s Foundation in Hong Kong, Gulliver went beyond the standard corporate platitudes about enabling employees to realise their full potential. He admitted that big banks like HSBC are institutions have been largely shaped by white men, and that they will have to change if they are to appeal to a more diverse workforce.

When Gulliver joined HSBC, the bank’s colonial past was still so entrenched that it did not accept women into its training programme for managers. Moreover, there was an unspoken assumption that, in order to be successful, employees had to commit their lives to the institution. For women who did manage to break into the top ranks, that often meant choosing between having a career and having children.

from The Great Debate:

Clinton: The newest New Democrat

Democrats have a history of plucking presidential candidates out of obscurity: Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama. Republicans are supposed to go for whomever is next in line, particularly if they have run before: Richard M. Nixon, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney.

It looks like just the opposite for 2016.

In the latest Iowa poll, Hillary Clinton completely dominates the Democratic field with 56 percent of the likely caucus vote (she came in third in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, behind Barack Obama and John Edwards). No other potential Democratic candidate gets more than single digit support. It's Clinton's turn.

from Felix Salmon:

Annals of gender diversity, Pimco edition

Over the past three years or so, Pimco has been making a concerted effort with respect to gender equality and women's empowerment. And this effort is being led from the very top: check out CEO Mohamed El-Erian's speech to USAID last year, or his more recent rave review of Sheryl Sandberg's book. El-Erian is clearly committed to overcoming institutional biases at Pimco and to ensuring that his company "employs, enables, develops, stimulates, and retains" the very best workforce it can -- including, of course, the very best women.

So, how's that working out for him? Google "Pimco leadership", and you end up at this page, which lists the firm's "Global Executive Leadership" as well as all of its managing directors. The former list has six names on it; all of them are men. The latter list is longer -- some 58 names. And if you look closely, you should be able to find 7 women there, alongside 51 men.

from Chrystia Freeland:

Making the most of diversity

For America, 2012 will go down in history as the year of the Latinos, the blacks, the women and the gays. That rainbow coalition won President Barack Obama his second term. This triumph of the outsiders is partly due to America's changing demographics. And it is not just the United States that is becoming more diverse. Canada is, too, as is much of Europe.

That is why it is worth thinking hard about how to make diverse teams effective, and how people who straddle two cultural worlds can succeed. Three academics, appropriately enough a diverse group based in Asia and America, have been doing some provocative research that suggests that our ability to comfortably integrate our different identities - or not - is the key.

from The Great Debate:

Where Karl Rove was right

Give Karl Rove a break. His meltdown on election night may not have been entirely about Fox News prematurely calling Ohio for President Barack Obama. After all, the poor guy had every right to get upset while watching the Republican Party nominee’s campaign crash and burn.

For all intents and purposes, Mitt Romney trampled on Rove’s once vaunted GOP playbook -- and leaves a weakened GOP in his wake.

from Unstructured Finance:

Diversity on Wall Street, or a lack thereof

By Matthew Goldstein

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen in Florida, has evoked a lot of debate about race in America and the nation’s attitudes to what it means to be a minority.

There’s been a good deal written that major media organizations were slow to react to this tragic story, in part because there simply aren’t enough minority voices on staff. This point was highlighted recently in a  story in The New York Times

from Lucy P. Marcus:

Why Facebook – and every company – needs a diverse board

On Tuesday, the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), the second-largest pension fund in the United States, wrote to Facebook to address the fact that the company has an unusually small, insular board with no women. With this bold and public step, CalSTRS brought to the fore an issue of genuine concern: diversity in the boardroom.

Most of the press will pick up the part about the absence of women board members, and that is vital -- there is no doubt that women are severely underrepresented in the boardroom. The lack of women on boards, however, is a reflection of a wider problem with diversity: It is one of color, age, international perspective and more. The Facebook boardroom has virtually no variety, and that is a serious issue. Boards that don’t represent the stakeholders of the business and the environment in which companies operate are not able to do their jobs as capably.

from Felix Salmon:

There’s nothing fabulis about Citibank

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries has a good post on l'affair Fabulis, in which a gay entrepreneur named Jason Goldberg was told by Citibank that his website "was not in compliance with Citibank’s standard policies" before receiving a fulsome apology from Bill Brown, the head of branch banking in New York. (Goldberg's been blogging on this a lot; the best way to see everything is just to go to his blog home page.)

Valentino-DeVries points out that this is not an isolated case: Citi refused to open an account for sillyunderwear.com a couple of weeks ago, on the grounds that "we typically decline accounts associated with content that the general public may potentially find inappropriate or offensive". Meanwhile, Goldberg is asking for feedback on the question of whether he should move his money.

from DealZone:

Funds industry criticized for lack of diversity

wall-st.jpgThe U.S. mutual fund industry is doing little to increase diversity and hire more minority workers, a senior executive at boutique investment firm Ariel Investments said this week.

"The fund industry has to make a real commitment, not lip service, to diversity. And really go out of our way to find people of color to work in our organizations," Ariel president Mellody Hobson told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

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