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
That said, minorities also are underrepresented in the industry I spend most of my time writing about—Wall Street. And while it’s no secret that there are few minorities in the executives suites on Wall Street—there are not that many women, either—it’s worth taking look at some disturbing statistics.
A May 2010 by the General Accountability Office, which looked at the issue of diversity in the financial services industry, found that “overall diversity at the management level in the financial services industry did not change substantially from 1993 through 2008. Relying on data compiled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the GAO reported that minorities held just 10 percent of “senior-level” management positions at financial services firms.
In 2008, the EEOC data revealed that white males held 64 percent of all senior jobs, with African Americans holding 2.8 percent, Hispanics some 3 percent of all senior jobs and Asians holding 3.5 percent of top level jobs.
The GAO concluded that “without a sustained commitment” from the firms, “diversity at the management level may continue to remain generally unchanged over time.
And it’s not just on Wall Street where diversity is lagging. In October, a GAO report that took look at the operation of the Federal Reserve gave it low marks as well. The report found that diversity on Federal Reserve bank board “was limited from 2006 to 2010.” The GAO said in 2006, minorities accounted for 13 of the 108 director positions on the various Federal Reserve bank boards. In 2010, the number of minority directors had risen by just 2 people to 15.
So what does of this mean? Well simply that it’s good to talk about diversity but to make it happen takes a lot of work and commitment as the GAO aptly concluded.