Which Wall Street Firms Are Best for Racial and Ethnic Diversity? was originally published on Firsthand.
This past fall, Vault surveyed more than 3,000 investment banking professionals. We asked them to rate and comment on their firms’ benefits, compensation, culture, hours, and training, among other workplace factors. We also asked them to rate and comment on their firms’ diversity for women, LGBTQ+ diversity, and racial and ethnic diversity. In addition, we asked insiders to tell us about their firms’ responses to the Black Lives Matter movement and last summer’s anti-racist protests.
Today, in honor of the beginning of Black History Month, we’re highlighting the firms that rated the highest in our survey for racial and ethnic diversity. Below are the top five firms in our 2021 ranking of the Best Banking Firms for Racial & Ethnic Diversity, along with direct quotes from some of these firms’ professionals who took our survey.
Professionals at Loop Capital—co-founded by Black businessman James Reynolds, Jr. in 1997 and today one of the largest minority-owned banks in the U.S.—tell us they’re “proud to work at a firm where there’s so much focus on diversity and inclusion.” Loop has an “extremely diverse staff” and is “very well managed”—it serves as “an example for many” other firms. Loop places an especially “strong focus on minority inclusion, which is the best aspect of the firm.”
This past summer, in response to the anti-racist protests and BLM Movement, Loop enacted “initiatives on racial injustices and economic equality,” and “actively encouraged donating to various causes and even implemented a donation match.” The firm’s leaders, including CEO James Reynolds, have been “vocal and supportive of the equal rights movement,” and the “firm as a whole is strongly aligned with BLM.”
Bank of America has historically been one of the leaders on Wall Street when it comes to diversity for women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and racial and ethnic minorities. Today, BofA bankers tell us, “the firm is actively working on diversity issues and has implemented a number of new strategies to help promote a diverse culture.” There’s “a good amount of focus here on diversity”— “the bank does a lot of positive things around diversity and inclusion.”
BofA’s focus on diversity was also on display this past summer. Along with “publicly denouncing racist practices and commending employees’ rights to peacefully protest,” the bank “took many steps to develop dialogue internally through countless speaker series,” and provided “substantial financial commitments to minority businesses, communities, neighborhoods, and nonprofits to address racial and income inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic.” According to BofA insiders, these commitments include “$1 billion over the next four years to address racial and economic inequality,” “a $2 billion sustainable economic progress bond,” “$20 million to the Smithsonian to have conversations about race around the country,” and “$300 million to housing development and minority-owned depository institutions.”
Evercore, a very prestigious independent investment banking advisory firm, has “a number of diversity networks that promote an inclusive atmosphere focused on learning and communication.” The “firm is very supportive of diversity,” and “scrutinizes its hiring, promotion, and compensation policies to ensure there’s no discrimination.” The firm’s executive management “leads by example, and sets a tone that it’s of utmost importance to have empathy and help those around us.”
Recently, Evercore’s “chairman, founder, and co-CEOs have shown great leadership in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, addressing it directly in a timely fashion, particularly around George Floyd’s death.” In the wake of the events of this past summer, “Evercore’s CEO, entirely unprompted, sent a personal email to employees discussing the importance of diversity and institutional abhorrence to the acts of racism and the related acts of violence that have been in the news.” In addition, the firm “revised its corporate values,” “established related charitable giving with matching contributions from the firm,” and “held town halls and discussions with internal diversity groups on how to best address issues inside and outside the firm.”
Moelis, a top investment banking boutique, is “focused on recruiting, retaining, and developing diverse employees.” Its diversity networking events and recruiting efforts “have been extremely effective”—“the firm typically extends offers to a lot of the candidates” that go through its diversity programs. One such program offers “diverse sophomore students opportunities to learn about investment banking from industry-leading professionals and gain exposure to Moelis bankers.” Another is “a merit-based fellowship awarded to first-year MBA students who identify as part of an underrepresented group and who embody Moelis’ culture of collaboration.”
This past summer, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, Moelis “held firmwide calls to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-racist protests” and “started employee networks to further the conversations on these topics.” Also, Moelis’ CEO “sent a personal message to the firm,” and its COO “was very encouraging and demonstrated empathy.” Moelis’ “leadership addressed the issue of white privilege and expressed the need to remain focused and educated on how Wall Street firms can support anti-racist initiatives.” The firm “made it clear that it supports efforts that stand for social justice, and takes its responsibility to support diversity and inclusion in the workplace seriously.”
At Centerview, which topped our 2021 Vault 25 ranking of the best banks to work for, “there have been tangible improvements in diversity over the last few years and a huge push to improve diversity recruiting efforts.” And this year, “even before the horrible events surrounding the death of George Floyd, the firm had become much more active on diversity equity and inclusion.” Centerview has been “laser-focused on doing better in diversity”—‘there are no diverse candidates in our core schools’ is not acceptable as a response.”
This past summer, “Centerview’s leadership took immediate and meaningful action regarding anti-racism.” The response was “tremendous” and “led by co-founders and partners.” “The day after the initial protests, there was a firmwide conference call in which the firm reiterated its commitment to diversity hiring and allowed an open floor for employees to talk about their thoughts on the BLM movement, protests, diversity hiring, and any other issues they wanted to raise.” Later, Centerview “formed a D&I task force including bankers from all levels, held several speakers and Q&A sessions with internal and external leaders on the topic, and formed an internal group across levels to identify related charities to which the firm made significant monetary donations.”
View our entire 2021 ranking of the Best Banking Firms for Ethnic and Racial Diversity.