The Color of Money: Diversity Laws Hit Wall Street

Last Updated Sep 1, 2010 7:06 PM EDT


Buried in recently passed financial reform legislation is a requirement that both Federal financial regulatory agencies and the firms they oversee be held accountable for advancing women and minorities. Please pass Wall St. a paper bag: since the Chicago Tribune broke the story that financial reform regulations include muscled-up accountability for diversity, the hyperventilating has reached gale force.
Always averse to regulation -- and we know what that has done for the rest of us -- several industry spokespeople bleated on about extra expense and more paperwork and baa, baa, baa. (Funny how they never say, "Hey, we definitely appreciate the extra revenue we get when we include more women and minorities in our decisionmaking!")

Don't these people read their own industry reports? They're doing about as well as those who will judge them.

The Securities Industry Financial Marketing Association produced a handy report in 2007 that parsed the proportions of women and people of color at securities firms and brokerages. The percentage of women and men of color is about the same -- most recently, 11% -- and tends to increase in concert.

In the SIFMA report, white women account for about 31% of industry employees.

Are they all clustered in staff support roles? Most are, but the firms are doing about as well as their supervising agencies.

The Tribune reported that an Office of Personnel Management report lists women as 35% of financial institution examiners. That is not too out of sync with the 31% of industry managers who are women, according to SIFMA.

The industry has quite a ways to go with brokers, a population that is only 16.3% female, and (sigh), managing directors, at 14.5%. That's where I'd zero in if I were the Feds.

I've been keeping you up to date on the groundswell of pay equity and federal contracting accountability rising at the Dept. of Labor. Now here come the SEC, Federal Reserve banks, and other financial reform agencies. Is there anyone left who doubts that we're on the brink of major pain for those who dis diversity?

Image courtesy Flickr user Frerieke, CC 2.0