Can mothers be traders? Part two…

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The remarks made by hedge-fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones about how “babies are focus-killers” and more  (Click here to see the video) has resulted in thousands of twitter responses, dozens of articles, TV segments and heaven knows how many conversations about what one thinks mothers can and cannot do in the workplace.

I was compelled to write a response on LinkedIn which has been viewed over 10,000 times ( thank you) and resulted in more media requests than we ( with co author Susan Solovay) could handle.  I was able to do two radio segments, one on Take Away Public radio ( Women Investors Pushing Back on Claim That Mothers Can’t be Traders.) and another on Bloomberg Radio.

Many have asked me why did I take a stand on this and carve out heaven knows how many hours of my already packed week to speak out?  My answer is complicated. First, as I stated in the OPED, my personal experience has been counter to the TRUTH that he presented. As a mother who breast fed my children, and continued to work and trade after having children, and knowing countless others who have done the same, what he said was outrageous and simply not true. Yes many women will opt out of intense careers, but many more will not.  Two, the fact that he thinks this is likely means he does not hire women in to trading roles at his firm.  ( I tried to find data on his firm but could not) That is a discriminatory practice and he should be called out on it. I hope investors in his fund take action.  Three, he is a respected and listened to individual. He is a man of tremendous power. What he did is abusing that power by putting forth views that are not based on evidence, only anecdotes,  and others may follow his horrible advice. The result may be that others now feel justified in not hiring women and more.  He gave others permission to have those views and validate their own similar views. Forth, as the first woman trader to be made partner at Goldman Sachs I have spent so much time and effort encouraging women to consider careers in trading, and doing my best to open the doors of opportunity for them.  As I said in one interview, Mr. Jones is worth over $3 billion dollars, and countless others have become ultra-wealthy in this industry. It is simply not right and just for women to be excluded from the OPPORTUNITY to succeed in this space because of strongly held gender stereotypes.  Fifth, I care so deeply about this issue that I spent a good part of my year in 2009 helping to write a paper on the topic. ( and funding it) Because I kept asking myself the question “Why so few women?” I wanted to have a talented researcher really dig in to find as much information as possible to try to answer the question. As we laid out in our oped there are a lot of reasons, all of which suggest an intervention that can help level the playing field.  So my BIGGEST HOPE in all of this is that this paper gets in to the hands of people with power, with influence, that can actually implement some of the solutions. Please download the paper and send it around to anyone and everyone who might care about opening the doors of opportunity in the financial services sector.  I want to live in a world of greater access and opportunity and  instead of just assuming we live in a meritocracy, we actively engage in making it so.

Below is a summary of he solutions presented in “Women In Fund Management” to improve the representation of women in the financial services sector, and specifically in hedge funds.  I added some additional personal comments.  I truly wish there was a group that could take some of this on, and perhaps there is.   The most logical one might be “100 Women In Hedge Funds” as their mission is to to make a difference in both industry and community through its three pillars of unique educational programming, professional leverage initiatives, and philanthropy.  A lot to ask, I know.  I am also going to reach out to Catalyst.  Again, at a minimum I truly hope that these strategies get discussed at financial services firms large and small.  If you have any suggestions please send them to me!  Here is a brief summary of the solutions in the paper and please download the FREE report for greater detail.

  1. ADOPT A CRITICAL MASS PRINCIPLE – Research says that “magic seems to occur” in terms of changing the dynamics, decision making process and culture when diverse representation reaches 30%.  This has to be the diversity goal.
  2. PUT MONEY WHERE IT MATTERS – Encourage women- and men- of means, and institutional investors,  to use their wealth as a force for change by investing in women-managed funds and/or women-friendly companies.  In addition, many public funds have mandates to invest in minority owned firms and that money remains unallocated.  I have heard there is little accountability for such mandates and this could be the EASIEST thing to change.
  3. REQUIRE GREATER TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY – Require registration of and reporting about fund managers, including those in hedge funds, so that the diversity of the field is visible and can be addressed. Given the nature of the hedge fund industry this is so  hard but we as investors can ask questions. For large firms this has to be a goal.
  4. EXPAND THE PIPELINE – Address issues in MBA programs ( and other programs) that result in the enrollment of women at less than one third of the total, and provide counseling and encouragement for women to consider financial services as a career. This is such a catch 22. Yes we need to encourage women but as one woman said to me in an email,” I was so encouraged to enter trading but the reality of my job is horrible. I am the only woman and everyday I have to deal with extremely sexist attitudes and fight battles my male colleagues do not.  I am as talented and committed but my boss keeps telling me that he is worried I will ‘one day’ have children and leave  so he is afraid of giving me a big seat. Jacki, what should I do? I talk to other women ‘onlys’ and we wonder is it worth it? No one told us it would be this hard. ” 
  5. BUILD AND EXPAND PROFESSIONAL NETWORKS – Research has shown that supportive networks are critical for encouraging women and other under-represented populations to stay and excel in inhospitable fields. I have a pet peeve here and I too am part of the problem. Yes we need networks but we need THOSE networks to take collective action.  Women have so much power if used collectively.  This goes for internal diversity networks, organizations whose mission is to accelerate change, and other business and professional networks in the field.
  6. PROVIDE MENTORING OPPORTUNITIES AT ALL LEVELS – Institutionalize formal mentoring programs within firms and through outside networks that match younger women with more experienced women and men in the field to provide perspective and wisdom and to encourage professional growth. Love this but we have done so much of this. Has all this mentoring resulted in much of anything? I am not sure. Yes this is good but we now need to leverage all this mentoring in to other actions.
  7. HIGHLIGHT THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF SUCCESSFUL WOMEN IN FINANCE TO PROVIDE ROLE MODELS FOR OTHER WOMEN – Putting the spotlight on women fund managers and financial leaders challenges the perception that women are not well suited for careers in finance. YES YES.  I invite all women managers, and especially highly successful ones, to PLEASE make yourselves more visible.  I also invite media to SEEK OUT women to profile, highlight, and feature as thought leaders. Ladies put yourself on SHESOURCE now. I also invite a media outlet like BLOOMBERG to create a page on women  managers and funds.
  8. CHANGE THE CLIMATE AND CULTURE – Ensure that leaders in the field communicate their commitment to building workplaces where everyone can succeed at the level of her or his capacity. This commitment must be institutionalized at all levels of the company’s hierarchy.  This is huge.  As evidenced by Mr. Tudor Jones there is a lot of bias out there and this is the hardest, hardest issue to address. I can just hope, and pray, that more senior business leaders have a ‘wake-up’ moment and acknowledge that perhaps they do hold on to stereo-types that affect their decision making and are preventing them from giving talent opportunity. I also know that there are many male leaders out there that truly are aware and sensitive to bias and I invite them to share their views and practices. Become visible  male champion.
  9. SUPPORT AND FUND RESEARCH IN THE FIELD – To develop effective solutions, we need to understand the problem and measure the results.

Let’s not forget what the question was that an audience member asked Mr. Tudor Jones that started this firestorm. He was asked to ” Please reflect on the make-up of the panel  — rich, white middle age men who were mentored by the same and what it takes for someone different to have a seat at the table and finally share their voices from a powerful place.” Might a consortium of hedge-fund managers work together to consider this? I sure  hope so and I am here to help in any way I can.

A Summary of  some of the articles related to the Paul Tudor Jones Comments

Anne-Marie Slaughter – The Atlantic: The Real Problem with the ‘Babies Are a Focus-Killer’ Theory: Bad for Business 

Karen Finerman – CNBC- Yes, Paul Tudor Jones. Motherhood and Trading Are Doable

Rana Foroohar – TIME – Sorry, Paul Tudor Jones: It’s Male- Not Female – Traders We Should be Worried About

Susan Milligan – US News & World Report – Wall Street’s Misogyny on Display

Maureen Farrell – CNN Money- Hedge Fund Guru Says Moms and Trading Don’t Mix

Helanine Olen- HITC Business – Hormones Don’t Hurt Females – Inequality Does

Chrystia Freeland- The New York Times- Sexist Mores of Super Rich Hurt us All

Simone Foxman – Quartz – Why Paul Tudor Jones’ theory that women aren’t good traders if they have babies is scientifically unsound

William Alden – NY Times – When a Billionaire Speaks Off the Cuff on Motherhood.

Stephen Taub – Institutional Investors Alpha – What Paul Tudor Jones Meant to Say

Linette Lopez – Business Insider – I’m A Woman, And I Don’t Think Paul Tudor Jones’ Comments on Women Traders Were Sexist

 

Do Women on Wall Street Help Other Women?

255-25182Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote this article in today’s DEALBOOK that brought up a painful memory for me.  Well maybe a few painful memories.  He interviewed Irene Dorner, the chief Executive of HSBC, who says she “blames herself – and her female colleagues – for the lack of women on Wall Street.”  She says that she, and senior women, like her, did not push hard enough to change the status quo.  While I don’t believe in the whole “blame the woman” thing as it certainly does not explain the lack of progress, I did want to share a story that this article triggered.

The year must have been 2000 and I had left my trading position to take on a role in the Executive Office responsible for many areas of human capital management, focussing the Managing Director population.  I had been promoted in to this role in part because of my passion for women’s advancement, and for the culture of the firm in general.  I had organized a visit to London to meet with the high potential women there and had personally reached out to the handful of most senior to ask them to attend a cocktail party. At the cocktail party would be the leadership of the firm and it would be an opportunity to meet and mingle.

One of the most senior women was known for not participating in any of the women’s events, and by her behavior discouraged others from doing so as well. She prided herself, it seemed, for being successful “despite” being a woman.   I personally reached out to her to ensure she would attend sharing that her support of Goldman’s women’s initiatives was important as such things did provide “other” women with opportunities that were meaningful to them. She was rude on the phone and said she would come.

I arrived in London and sure enough, she did not show up at the event.  Her non presence was surely noticed and even joked about by some of the senior men.  Anything we were trying to do there was marginalized.  Here I had a job, a job, where I was to create opportunities for women to share their experiences with the senior leaders of the firm, to get exposure, and she made it all about her.

I was livid. The next day I marched down to her office and asked her why she did not attend.  She said she did not believe in such things, that they further ghettoized women, and she thought any “diversity initiatives” were a waste. I of course disagreed, shared that my job, and many other people’s jobs, were to support and promote diversity and that her actions were unacceptable as a senior leader of the firm.  We literally almost got in to a fist fight.

I went back to New York and news of the “incident” got there before I did.  I virtually went straight in to the head of the division’s office expecting to be consoled and supported and instead I got blasted.  I was truly shell-shocked.  I upset my colleague by pushing my agenda on her I was told. “My agenda?” I asked. Here the whole time I thought it was my job. Here I thought I had been given this promotion as the FIRM thought it was important and that there was no double standard in terms of what they expected of their senior leaders.   I wanted an apology from her and for her to be held accountable.  She wanted my head on a platter.

We talked in detail about the incident and my division head seemingly came around to my viewpoint.  That being that any, any senior person of the firm has an obligation to embrace and support the initiatives that the FIRM puts forward as meaningful, and to not do so would be undermining those very efforts and the people who are responsible for carrying them out.

To me this is a big reason why there has been lack of progress. There have been so many “programs” and “initiatives” that have been created that are not fully supported and worse, sabotaged, by senior leaders and sadly in this case, a senior woman leader.  Why would a more junior employee be involved if her direct manager is telling her otherwise?

So do I blame the women? Only the women, like the one above, who fail to see how much their leadership matters.  I have always believed that as women who have made it, we have an OBLIGATION to work to create more equal access and opportunity even though that may not have been our own experience.  We have to force ourselves to see bias, and if it exists, work as hard as we can to help level the playing field. Can this and does this often cost us in terms of our own career? Yes it can and does, but I for one want to be able to look myself in the mirror and know I did my best not just for myself, but for other women too.

So I left the meeting with my division head feeling supported and  he said he would speak with my colleague in London. I later learned the opposite happened.  That not only was she not reprimanded but I was labeled the troublemaker.  That incident might have been the beginning of the end for me.  The job was hard enough but to not be supported in it, forget it.  As for that woman? Yup, you guessed it. She got promoted and is now one of the most senior leaders of Goldman Sachs.

 

The EU’s New Rule – 40% Women on Boards

Women on Boards.   I have been writing on this topic  for some time and as one of the founders of The 30% Coalition I am in strong support of this new rule, and I  only wish we could do it here in the United States as well. In particular I like how this article in The Nation  addressed why it has to be an all in approach.

 

Eleven EU member states (Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Austria and Slovenia) have recognized this and have already started to act by introducing different types of rules to advance gender equality on company boards. However, a piecemeal approach on such an important social and economic issue can hamper our single market. Companies need a coherent, reliable legal framework, especially when they want to do business in the EU’s single market. Our proposal therefore aims to create an EU-wide framework for positive action rules that gives direction to national policymakers and legal certainty to businesses.

For the past few weeks I have been working hard on a TED TALK that  I will be giving at TEDxWomen in Washington, DC on the 30th of this month.  In preparation I have read and reread every major research report on gender inequality  and diversity  I can find. And guess what I found? There is simply NO GOOD REASON why at this moment in our world’s history we are not much closer to gender parity in leadership.  Study after study shows the benefits of diversity and yet…. and yet…. whenever  any type of quota is mentioned people freak out. Forcing diversity will likely lead to better outcomes people!!!!  Not worse. If you say prove it than I say you prove it that having a homogenous board of older white males is the superior mix. At the end of the day it is a leap of faith but the evidence is lined up in support of this move.

What also makes me nuts is this idea that the world is a meritocracy, and that public companies operate that way. Maybe some do but most do not. It is human nature to like people like yourself, to promote people like yourself, to want to be with people who think like you and that is why diversity of all kinds takes so long to happen on it’s own.   We need a massive intervention to shake this up. Time and effort have shown that being nice and  gentle about it is not working. Making the ‘business case’ has only taken us so far.  Biases are so engrained, run so deep, that forced change at the board level is one of the only ways to challenge the culture of public companies that are, by the way, accountable to their shareholders.

I spent 14 years at Goldman Sachs including the last two in the Executive Office working on all human capital management issues. I served on the Partnership Committee composed of the most senior leaders of the firm responsible for ensuring that Goldman was a true meritocracy. And guess what? It most certainly was not in my opinion. Did they try? Did they want to be? Did most of the leaders believe it was? Yes. But it was not. There was actually no way it could  be because at the end of the day people were hired , fired, promoted, paid based on personal judgement.  Yes they tried to make the process as transparent and objective as possible but someone(s)  made the decision, yes you are a partner, or no you are not.

I wrote an article a while back called “The Myth of Meritocracy” and that is what it is for most organizations, a myth. Of course the senior leaders need to believe it as to believe otherwise would suggest that maybe they were more lucky than smart, more favored than talented, more liked than gifted. And that does not feel as good.  I always would tell people when asked about my early partnership ( age 32, 8 years in to my career from undergrad) that is was a combination of talent, hard work and being in the right seat at the right time. For me I believe it also HELPED not HURT that I was a woman!

So I applaud this move by the EU. I say it is about time. I say this will be huge step forward for all of us that believe  the world is far from being a meritocracy. Might it be that some women get on boards that are not as ‘qualified’ when considered in isolation? Perhaps, but I am sure unqualified men have been getting those positions for ever.  But that is not the point. The point is that taken as a whole, a more diverse board is better than a less diverse one.  The point is that countless women deserve board seats but are not getting them because of ingrained bias. The point is that  what makes a good board member should be expanded to include a wider variety of people who actually have more TIME to serve well. The point is boards should in some reasonable way represent the customers they serve.

I want to share one quick anecdote. Years ago when I just left Goldman I met with a highly respected search person to explore a corporate board seat. I provided a detailed bio and she, SHE dismissed me like I was yesterdays breakfast.  At the time, 10 years ago, I though “oh gosh, I am not qualified I guess” and let it be. In the years that followed I started to hear the same story from other highly qualified women about this one search person.  Of course I will never know if she just didn’t support women, or perhaps did not think her clients would hire women, but I have since had this bad taste about the whole thing. It is clubby. It is a lot about who you know not what you know. It is time to shake it up.

 

In addition to the work of The 30% Coalition check our 20% by 2020. ( click here)  On their web-site you can search by company to see their board composition.  Thank you for this great service and PLEASE can we have an ap for that?

 

See the statistics for yourself, here are some research articles related to boardroom diversity…

Catalyst: Women Board Directors: A Comparison of Economic Results

Credit Suisse: Gender Diversity and Corporate Performance

Goldman Sachs: The Economic Case for Increasing Female Participation

McKinsey & Company: Women Matter

TechCrunch 2012: Why Your Next Board Member Should be a Woman

And visit the Corporate Boards section in the resource section on my website for about 60 more articles…