Vault's Careers Blog

Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

Archive for the ‘Equality’ Category

Vault’ s Careers Blog is Moving

leave a comment »


An announcement: after almost a year on WordPress, we’re discontinuing Vault’s Careers Blog on WordPress. But don’t worry: you’ll still be able to get your fill of career information and advice on Vault.com–where our blogs are going from strength to strength.

Our full blog lineup on Vault.com is as follows:

Vault’s Careers Blog
Vault’s Law Blog
Consult THIS: Consulting Careers, News and Views
In Good Company: Vault’s CSR blog
In the Black: Vault’s Finance Careers Blog
Admit One: Vault’s MBA, Law School and College Blog
Insider Career Advice from SixFigureStart
Innovate with Influence: Global High Tech

Thanks for reading us on WordPress.

We hope to see you over on Vault.com soon!

–The Vault Editorial Team

Advertisements

Where the Women Aren’t: The Banking C-Suite

leave a comment »


October is Carl Paladino National Diversity Month, so we decided to go back to the data we collected in our most recent Banking Survey and see if we couldn’t find a few fitting pieces to offer up in honor of these holy 31 days.

First, what we found, unsurprisingly, is a marked lack of women in the banking workplace. Somewhat surprising, though, was that this lack of women increases as you go up the banking org chart. That is, as you’ll see in the graphic below, of those bankers surveyed, 26 percent identified themselves as women. But of those surveyed who hold executive positions, only 11 percent identified themselves as women. The takeaway here is that females are still underrepresented at the top financial firms, and are severely underrepresented in the higher ranks at the top financial firms.

Vault.com 2010 banking diversity gender

Second we found (again unsurprisingly) that the ethnic group that accounts for most (almost three quarters) of the entire banking industry is none other than the white male. However, interestingly, we found that the white male is far better represented in the banking industry than it is in the general population—almost 10 percent greater as you can see in the graphic below. In addition, Asians, the second largest ethnic group in banking, are also far better represented in the industry than they are in the wider U.S. population—about three times greater, in fact. On the other side of this diversity story, Hispanic individuals and African-Americans are severely underrepresented in the banking industry versus their representation in the wider population.

 

Vault.com ethnic diversity of finance industry 2010

Third, we found a large lack of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individuals in banking. Given that banking is perhaps one of, if not the most politically conservative industries in the United States, this might not come as that much of a surprise, but still, you would think that the lack might not be as significant as the pie chart below indicates: just 1 percent of the more than 2,200 bankers surveyed had identified themselves as an openly GLBT individual. Which begs the question: are GLBT individuals not welcome into the banking industry, not interested in the industry, or both?

Vault.com 2010 banking diversity GLBT

–Posted by Derek Loosvelt, In The Black

Women’s Salaries Rising Faster than Men’s

leave a comment »


Is the salary gap between men and women starting to narrow? It certainly appears to be at the higher end of the salary scale: the number of women earning salaries in excess of six figures has jumped 14 percent in the last two years, while the number of men in that category rose just 4 percent over the same period. (Even better news: apparently people got raises over the last two years: who’d a thunk?)

However welcome that news may be, census figures—reported by The Washington Post–suggest that there’s still a long way to go to equalize salaries, especially in light of the fact that women are now more likely to hold an advanced degree than men.

As the Post points out, just “one in 18 women working full time earned $100,000 or more in 2009,” compared to one in seven men. In case you’re wondering, that works out to around “2.4 million working women and 7.9 million men” in the six figure (or better) category.

A couple of other points worth noting about the data:

First, it seems like it wasn’t all that long ago we were reading stories that, for the first time in history, the number of men and women in the workforce was roughly equal. While that had come largely as a result of the fact the recession hit male-dominated industries much harder than female-dominated ones, it turns out that it’s also nowhere near the truth when you factor out part-time employees. As the Post reports “[t]he full-time workforce remains predominantly male, with 56 million men and 42 million women.”

And, second, the most likely place for women to secure a decent salary is in Washington, D.C.—the capital “had the highest median pay among all full-time working women,” while ranking second on the scale for the number of women making six figures or higher. Apparently one in six Washington women currently pull down a minimum of $100,000, second only to San Jose, CA.

Wall Street Hearts Gay Marriage

leave a comment »


Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but last night, while the eyes of the Wall Street media were still focused on Goldman Sachs’ sex-discrimination suit, the American Foundation for Equal Rights–the group that spearheaded the battle to fight California’s gay marriage ban–held a fundraising benefit in Midtown Manhattan, and executives from KKR, Blackstone, Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs and others from the investment banking, hedge fund and private equity industries were in attendance to support the organization.

Such a public display of affection for the rights of gay and lesbians is a complete about-face by the upper echelons of the finance industry compared to how they dealt with this issue just a few years ago.

In Vault’s annual Banking Survey, administered each spring for more than a decade, we have asked professionals in the industry to comment on their firm’s diversity efforts with respect to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, as well as with respect to women and minorities. It wasn’t too long ago that a majority of those surveyed would respond to the GLBT question with, at best, “no comment,” while freely providing scores of information about diversity efforts with respect to women and ethnic minorities. In addition, even when we did receive a comment, and a positive comment at that, about a firm’s GLBT diversity, the commenter, more times than not, did not wish to go on record; to boot, PR heads of firms continually lobbied for the removal (from the survey write-up) of any mention of GLBT diversity–even if their firm was painted in a very positive light.

In the past couple of years, however, this has been changing. We now receive just as many (or almost as many) comments about GLBT hiring practices as we do about women and ethnic minority practices. And PR representatives are now more than happy to highlight their efforts to hire and accommodate GLBT individuals.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that the finance industry (or America’s other corporations in other industries) have come close to embracing gay and lesbian rights in the workplace, but we have come a long way, paving the way for top-ranking executives, such as Ken Mehlman, a partner at KKR, perhaps the most well known private equity firm on the planet, to come out and speak their minds.

Last week, Mehlman (who, prior to joining KKR, ran George Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004), publicly acknowledged his homosexuality. In an interview, he told The Atlantic, “Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I’ve told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they’ve been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that’s made me a happier and better person. It’s something I wish I had done years ago.”

Kudos, Mr. Mehlman, and here’s (glass raised) to hoping that your courage will inspire other current and future professionals, as well as encourage current and future corporations to take an increased pride in the individualities of their employees.

–Posted by Derek Loosvelt, In the Black

Written by Phil Stott

September 23, 2010 at 11:36 am

Did Goldman Break Its Diversity Policy?

leave a comment »


For the 11th straight year, industry insiders named Goldman Sachs the most prestigious bank in North America in Vault’s latest ranking. In hindsight then, all the public mudslinging of recent years has done little to upset the bank whether it’s in attracting the biggest deals or the best talent. And according to our survey, bankers continue to want Goldman on their resume.

Ironically, a day after the rankings debuted, the bank’s prestige is under attack by three former female employees who charge, according to The Wall Street Journal, that “The investment bank practices a system in which women are paid less, promoted less and ‘systematically circumvented and excluded.'”

Jobs, Careers and Reviews at Goldman SachsWhat’s astounding about the allegation is the repeated emphasis on intent, i.e., that the bank has a system that almost formulaically excludes women from getting promoted and compensated on par with their male counterparts. While the bank has called the suit without merit, stating that, “People are critical to our business, and we make extraordinary efforts to recruit, develop and retain outstanding women professionals,” it seems it is yet again in the red with the public.

Comments from our Banking 50 survey—culled from responses submitted by over 1,300 banking professionals earlier this year—provide further perspective:

“Supportive and respectful management”

“They could do a better job of promotion as well as placement into areas that are a good fit and utilize skill sets…”

“Having come up through the ranks, from a junior trader to now an experienced one in fixed income products, I must say that I’ve been very pleased with the level of training, support and guidance that I’ve received over the years from the firm…”

“I’m a firm believer in the culture at Goldman Sachs. The firm is team-focused, emphasizing integrity and personal development within the industry.”

“I think we do a good job at getting women and diversity candidates in the door, but for real success we need to work on better retention.”

And, finally a snippet of their Diversity Mission Statement from Vault’s Annual Diversity Survey:

“The firm’s commitment to diversity is evident at the most senior levels and is driven down through the firm by way of our seventh business principle: “We offer our people the opportunity to move ahead more rapidly than is possible at most other places. Advancement depends on merit and we have yet to find the limits to the responsibility our best people are able to assume. For us to be successful, our men and women must reflect the diversity of the communities and cultures in which we operate. That means we must attract, retain and motivate people from many backgrounds and perspectives. Being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be.”

So where does this leave the banking king: A chauvinistic boys club, truly diverse with a few unintentional victims, or the victim of a ploy to take advantage of its current poor reputation? Weigh in by leaving a comment, emailing In Good Company or connecting on Twitter @VaultCSR.

More reading: The complete WSJ report.

What other banks made the Top 10 most prestigious banks in North America this year?

Post Work Socializing: Workplace Bonding or Boys’ Club?

leave a comment »


Man with beer

AP Photo/Fritz Reiss

Your liver or your career?

A recent FINS article suggested that anyone thinking of trying to make it on Wall Street should drink up: the culture on the Street is apparently heavily dependent on after-hours booze-ups. While that likely won’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the financial industry (or many other industries, for that matter), it does raise the issue of workplace bonding—and the question of where to draw the line between an employee’s “fit” and their performance.

If the former broker cited in the FINS piece is to be believed, he was slow to realize that he was missing out on more than just a hangover by not participating in post-work drinking sessions. As he puts it, he lost the opportunity to forge “emotional connections” with his fellow employees—and specifically with bosses. And while not hitting the bar on a regular basis may strike some as the act of a responsible careerist, the failure to build those bonds may have cost the broker: he lost his job when the financial crisis struck.

The article doesn’t offer details on whether any of broker’s former colleagues who participated in the carousing were also let go, or attempt to discover whether the layoff was related to performance issues in addition to the economic difficulties. But the very fact that one can come away from the piece speculating on that underlines the difficulty of balancing a close-knit work group with a commitment to remaining professional at all times.

Most of us have had a colleague at some point who seems to get by on personal connections rather than the quality of their work. And it’s certainly not difficult to imagine a scenario where the boss’ drinking buddies are treated preferentially over a colleague who may be just as talented—or more so—but lacking when it comes to that all-important emotional connection.

Many of us also have stories of workplaces or departments where all the talent an organization could possibly need is hampered by a poor culture and lack of communication.

The challenge for execs, then, is in striking the balance between the two: encouraging bonding without having it spill over into an institutionalized boys’ club. To that end, a good starting point may well be to set aside some regular office hours for non-work activities for your employees—with a careful focus on ensuring that people socialize beyond their usual work groups.

Of course, it’s difficult to prevent groups of employees from forming cliques and excluding others: people naturally gravitate to those with similar interests. But those at an executive level need to exercise care should they become aware—or even choose to participate—in such groups. Because while close “emotional connections” can produce close-knit, well-functioning teams, they can also lead to blind spots over performance or conduct. And that’s something no business can afford.

Should Profitable Companies Still Cut Salaries?

leave a comment »


Let’s imagine for argument’s sake that you’re one of the 90 percent of American adults who is working. Not only that, but you’ve got a job with a company that managed to make a profit even during the darkest days of the recession, and has so much cash on hand that it’s doling out generous dividends to its shareholders.

Sound like a reasonable time to ask for a raise? And even if it doesn’t, you definitely wouldn’t be expecting to be fighting against wage and benefit “givebacks,” right?

As The New York Times reported last week, employees of a Mott’s apple juice plant in upstate New York have been facing exactly that scenario since May. Plant owner Dr Pepper Snapple Group feels that “the Mott’s workers are overpaid compared with other production workers in the Rochester area, where blue-collar unemployment is high.” Accordingly, the company is seeking “a $1.50-an-hour wage cut, a pension freeze and other concessions to bring the plant’s costs in line with ‘local and industry standards.'”

Plant workers are understandably peeved by the plans, and have been on strike for more than 90 days. But the case is interesting for more than just the simple labor dispute at its heart—the Times points out that “[f]or unions across the country, the stakes are high because if the Mott’s workers lose this showdown, it could prompt other profitable companies to push for major labor concessions.”

The case is also being presented as another example of “corporate greed” running amok, with the president of the union claiming that Dr Pepper Snapple “just came in and said, ‘we have no financial need for this, but we just want it anyway because we figure we can get away with it.”

At a time of heightened focus on the growing economic stratification in the U.S., the case raises a number of interesting questions. Chief among those: whether a company that’s making a profit should be demanding givebacks from employees, regardless of local conditions.

Additionally, the case also highlights the severe income disparities between workers at the top and bottom of corporations. An employee at the Mott’s plant pulling in $15.00 an hour would make $120 for an 8 hour shift—not counting benefits—a figure that comes out to an annual salary of less than $30,000. According to Forbes, meanwhile, Dr Pepper Snapple CEO Larry D. Young pulled down a base salary of more than 30 times that figure in 2009—a total of $934,616. Factor in stock awards and other compensation, meanwhile, and his total for the year rises to some $6.5 million.

As ever, we’d love to hear your opinions: is the proposed action by Dr Pepper Snapple justified because of the local market conditions or does the attempt to effect cost savings from employee salaries despite making a profit just seem mean-spirited?

–Phil Stott, Vault.com

Written by Phil Stott

August 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm