Women and Wall Street – We Need them!

Did you know the number of women working on Wall Street has decreased dramatically? An article back in September in the Wall Street Journal stated that “in the past 10 years, 141,000 women, or 2.6% of female workers in finance left the industry.The ranks of men grew by 389,000 in that period, or 9.6%.” New research released this past week says that “less than 5% of the most senior executives at investment banks are women.” This is a serious issue that we need to care more about. Let me tell you why.

There is a large amount of research, summarized well by Nicholas Kristof in this article , and in this research report by the National Council For Research on Women, that having women present in critical mass in leadership and decision making positions could lead to better outcomes.
We just went through a massive financial crisis, one characterized by excessive risk taking and greed, led my men, and now we have even more of the same in decision making positions. Please someone show me the list ( and it should be long ) of senior people who lost there jobs over this? Please someone give me examples of firms that said you know we messed up, we want to be better next time, and we are going to shake up our leadership teams, think out of the box, add talented, diverse people because hey, we don’t want this to happen again. Now the numbers show not only is this not true, but we are moving even more in the direction of homogeneity.
Every time I write something like this I get a whole bunch of nasty responses saying I am out to lunch, that women are as greedy as men, that women should not be favored, blah blah blah…. I say PROVE IT. Find an example of a women leading organizations or systems where the outcome was the loss of trillions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of jobs….. Or perhaps this is easier, show me the EVIDENCE that rooms and buildings full of white, American, upper-class men have done such a good job creating a somewhat just, equitable, well functioning financial system. When is it time to take a leap of faith, embrace the research, and enact the solutions so that diversity on Wall Street might finally be achieved? I am not talking about a women take-over, I am talking about a goal of critical mass, 30% women on the board and in senior leadership roles. The goal is greater balance. Our current system is out of balance!!!
If you have any doubt that our financial system is run my white guys, watch the Academy Award Winning film “The Inside Job.” Read any one of the now hundreds of books telling the tales of the crisis and get a highlighter out when they mention a woman.
The real question is how do we get there. That I need to tackle in another post but read the NCRW report!!!! As a co-writer and funder of this research it tells you how. It is a road-map for how to increase diversity in the financial services sector.
These numbers are shocking, disturbing and everyone who ones a stock, a bond, a house or gives a hoot about our collective economic future needs to care.
Resources
This article was just written today by Amy Siskind of the Daily Beast on the same topic.
Revealed: scale of gender bias in investment banking” by Elena Moya and Shanny Basar
Where are the Women on Wall Street?” The Female Factor – NYT
“Terminated: Why the Women of Wall Street are Disappearing” – Anita Raghaven FORBES
Museum of American Finance – History of Women on Wall Street

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