Posted on August 18, 2004

Working Wall Street: Not So Diverse

Jackie Cohen, CBS, Aug. 12

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) — Wall Street may have a reputation for being a white man’s world, but recruiters are trying to address diversity with affirmative action, albeit with lackluster results.

That’s according to the latest workplace survey conducted by the Securities Industry Association. “We see progress in the number of firms that have employee networks and mentoring programs for minorities,” says Pam Saber, vice president and managing director of human resources at the SIA. “But there’s still work to be done.”

Among the 17 firms that participated in the study for 2001 and 2003, 93 percent incorporated diversity training last year, compared with 67 percent in 2001. The companies included this education in management, supervisory and employee orientation programs, according to the SIA.

Financial firms are also embracing diversity in their recruitment tactics. Human resources staff at all of the midsize to large companies, and at 32 percent of the smaller ones surveyed, reported partnering with associations representing minorities and women. This compares with 100 percent of large firms, just 69 percent of midsize firms and 24 percent of the small ones doing so in 2001.

Yet the percentage of women and minorities working at the surveyed firms hasn’t improved much. Minorities accounted for 18.3 percent of employees at participating firms in 2003, down from 17.8 in 2001.

Meanwhile, gender is becoming even more imbalanced: Men represented 63 percent of staffing at participating companies in 2003, compared with 59 percent in 2001 and 57 percent in 1999 (when the SIA studied gender but not minorities).

However, women and minorities have increased their presence in investment banking and management positions. The percentage of women investment bankers went from 15 in 2001 to 17 in 2003; the percentage of minorities in this occupation went from 10 in 2001 to 16 in 2003.

In a similar vein, the percentage of female managing directors was 19 in 2003, compared with 14 in 2001; the percentage of minorities in these capacities was seven in 2003 and six in 2001.