“It was a very uncomfortable feeling. I knew he really liked me, and I think he was just warning me,” she said.
After leaving Wall Street, Gamba joined thousands of current and former female employees suing Goldman Sachs for gender discrimination in a long-running lawsuit. Goldman Sachs has denied the lawsuit’s allegations, and said in a statement that Gamba’s business unit was “performing poorly and undergoing extensive downsizing.”
For years, Wall Street has promised to bring more women and people of color into its upper ranks, but none of the country’s largest banks — those with at least $200 billion in assets — is headed by a woman or a person of color.
And only two of the 15 biggest banks in the country — TD Bank and BNY Mellon — agreed to publicly disclose their most recent government diversity reports in response to a request from The Washington Post.
“It’s going to take a lot for them to actually change. You have to fix the past to deal with the future,” Gamba said.
All of the banks already submit the workforce diversity data requested by The Post to the federal government each year through two-page forms known as EEO-1s. Companies with 100 or more employees are required to submit the forms each year, showing a breakdown of their U.S. workforce by race and gender across 10 job categories. The forms do not identify workers by name or contain trade secrets.
The data the industry does share with the public shows slow progress:
- At JPMorgan Chase, the country’s largest bank, with $2.7 trillion in assets, women and African Americans made up 25.8 percent and 2.9 percent respectively of senior executives in 2015, rising to 26.3 percent and 3.7 percent last year.
- In a yearly report, Wells Fargo, which has nearly $2 trillion in assets, told shareholders that women and minorities at “levels 2-4” had reached 41 percent and 19 percent of its workforce, respectively. The categories aren’t explained, and Wells Fargo didn’t offer more insight into its racial makeup. At The Post’s request, it released percentages but not the raw data it reports to the government. The data shows that women made up 24 percent of the bank’s senior workforce in 2015, rising to 31 percent last year. Black employees made up 8 percent of senior roles, falling to 4.1 percent in 2018.
- At TD Bank, one of two banks to share its full EEO-1 reports for the three most recent years, there was one black woman among 72 senior executives in 2015. There were no black women in its top ranks last year out of 42 senior executives overall.
- BNY Mellon, which has $1.7 trillion in assets, has released its full EEO-1 reports for the past few years. In 2018, the data showed BNY’s U.S. executive tier, made up of 14 people, was all white, except for one Asian man. The bank has since added two black executives.
- Capital One has made bigger improvements in promoting Hispanic and Asian employees into top roles than black employees, who were 2.4 percent of senior executives in 2016 and 2.6 percent last year.
- BB&T released data about its workforce diversity for the first time in 2019, showing that 8 percent of executives and senior managers are “persons of color,” but did not release its EEO-1 report to The Post. (Regulators approved its $66 billion merger with SunTrust last month, creating the country’s sixth-largest bank, with more than $400 billion in assets.)
- SunTrust also only provided vague information, showing that 18 percent of executives and senior managers were people of color in 2017, increasing to 19.2 percent last year.
- Bank of America publishes EEO-1 data for its three top job categories, as well as “all other” and “total” figures. The data show slight improvements across most major racial groups and women in the United States at its highest ranks. The percentage of female executives ticked up slightly, from 31.3 percent in 2016 to 33.4 percent in 2018.
- At Morgan Stanley, the share of female executives in its U.S. workforce dipped from 18.4 percent in 2016 to 17.8 percent in 2018, while the share of black executives rose from 1.9 percent to 2.2 percent.
Banks have struggled to increase the number of black employees in their upper ranks.
A 2017 report from the Government Accountability Office found that between 2007 and 2015, African Americans in first-, mid- and senior-level management jobs fell, from 6.5 percent to 6.3 percent, even while overall minority representation in financial services management rose.
The industry has been “treading water,” said Martin Davidson, a professor at the University of Virginia who has consulted with banks on their diversity programs. “Firms that are built and developed in ways that support and privilege predominantly white male managers and leaders — cultures that are built so they move people who fit that prototype — will always continue to nurture those kinds of people,” he said.
Last year at Goldman Sachs, 2.7 percent of its senior executives were black, compared with 3 percent in 2012. The only black member of the executive committee, who is in charge of diversity efforts, announced in October that he was leaving to lead a company in Silicon Valley.
The bank has made a renewed effort to address its lack of diversity, including a goal to increase the percentage of black entry-level recruits in the Americas to 11 percent and Hispanic or Latino entry-level recruits to 14 percent. In November, it announced its newest class of managing directors included its highest percentage yet of female and black employees.
At Citigroup, black employees fell from 16 percent of the bank’s total U.S. workforce in 2009 to 10.3 percent last year, and black executives now account for less than 2 percent of its senior ranks. Following a request from The Post, Citigroup, which released its entire EEO-1 data between 1999 and 2016, disclosed percentages for 2017 and 2018 across race and gender for most job categories, as well as a total workforce figure.
The bank said it is working to improve those figures, partnering with several universities to identify diverse summer associates, hosting career symposiums for students at historically black colleges and training employees to spot subtle biases. It is “one of the areas that honestly worries me the most,” said Sara Wechter, Citigroup’s human resources chief.
HSBC’s U.S. operations have increased the number of black employees in senior ranks from 16 in 2015 to 25 as of May of this year even as its overall workforce declined, according to company data.
“The hiring numbers look good and we have seen some great movement, but it’s just not fast enough,” Maureen Gillan-Myer, HSBC’s head of human resources for North America, said in an interview.
The industry’s reputation as a bastion of white men have also turned Wall Street into a target of Democratic lawmakers and investors. The powerful House Financial Services Committee has established a first-of-its kind subcommittee dedicated to the issue.
The banking industry has voiced support for workforce diversity for years but has struggled to “make meaningful success,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), chairwoman of the House Financial Services subcommittee on diversity and inclusion. Diversity “cannot merely be the ‘nice thing to do.’ It must penetrate the company’s mission, practices, and organizational culture. It must start at the top with the CEO and permeate throughout management. It must be intentional.“
Some banks said the EEO-1 form requested by The Post does not accurately reflect their workforce and that figures they provide to the government can be easily misinterpreted. What counts as a senior executive at one firm may be a middle manager at another, industry officials said. Others cited potential privacy issues for employees, argued that what they share is comparable to other banks, or declined to comment.
The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, which collects the forms each year, publishes a list of more than 800 job titles on its website, noting which categories each falls into.
At Charles Schwab, the only bank among the top 15 that does not disclose race or gender data, shareholders holding 40 percent of shares voted this year to require the company to disclose its diversity data.
“Our management and our board believe our efforts are best spent on ensuring our employees enjoy a rich and inclusive culture” rather than “focusing on data that can portray an inaccurate picture of the culture of our firm,” Schwab spokesman Glen Mathison said in a statement.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who advises the city’s public pension funds, is pressuring Charles Schwab to disclose more about its workforce. “These companies have almost no people of color in senior positions,” said Stringer. “It’s an absolute national disgrace, and we have targeted these companies because they’ve earned the right to be targeted.”
State Street, a large financial services company, drew international attention to the low number of women on Wall Street in 2017 when it deposited the statue of a petite girl in high-top sneakers in the shadow of the New York Stock Exchange. “Fearless Girl” illustrates “the power of women in leadership, and the potential of the next generation of women leaders,” the company said at the time.
But women were only 29 percent of its senior executives last year, compared with 28 percent in 2015, according to a yearly report. The company is aiming to increase that figure to 33 percent within three years. The bank did not respond to a question about why it would not disclose its EEO-1 form but said in a statement: “While we have made significant progress increasing the representation of women and employees of color in senior roles within the company, we are not yet satisfied and there remains much to do.”
To be sure, women have secured some of the industry’s top jobs. The chair of Wells Fargo’s board, Elizabeth Duke, is the first woman to hold that role in the industry.
In October, Citigroup, where 33 percent of its U.S. executives are now women, named Jane Fraser president of the bank and CEO of its global consumer banking business, making her the heir apparent to succeed CEO Michael Corbat.
The industry’s slow progress has disappointed even some of its stalwart boosters.
After more than 20 years in finance, Maura Cunningham launched Rock the Street, Wall Street, a year-long program that provides financial literacy training in hopes of encouraging high school girls to consider a career in finance.
“We tell them if they want to change the world, you’ve got to know the numbers; if you don’t know the numbers, you won’t get a seat at the table,” she said.
But Cunningham said her faith was shaken after her daughter joined a global financial company’s office in Chicago and complained of the culture there — having footballs thrown over her head and hearing comments about her body while waiting for the elevator. “I said, ‘keep your head down,’ ” Cunningham said. “But after a year, she said, ‘I’m out.’ ”
It was a tough lesson, Cunningham said. “It showed me the light, and I said the culture has to change.”
In addition to Goldman, several other major banks are also fighting discrimination lawsuits in court.
In 2018, Faye Boatright, a black former managing director at U.S. Bancorp, sued the bank, alleging she was paid less than white male peers for the same or similar work, was given fewer support staffers and had clients taken away. Boatright also alleges in the lawsuit she was given a “baseless” negative performance review after complaining about discrimination.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found the case had “probable cause,” according to the complaint, and the case is ongoing.
A U.S. Bancorp spokeswoman, Rebekah Fawcett, said in an email that U.S. Bancorp “thoroughly investigated Ms. Boatright’s concerns when she first raised them. Her allegations have no merit. Ms. Boatright was paid equitably and treated fairly during her time at the bank.”
Meanwhile, seven black financial advisers sued Morgan Stanley in 2016, alleging they were less likely than white peers to be connected with the clients of departing brokers and assigned to high-producing teams, making it more difficult for them to earn equal pay and remain at the firm.
“There’s this prevailing and harmful assumption that white clients would prefer to do business with white advisers,” said Suzanne Bish, a lawyer representing the advisers. “It's a way [the firms] avoid looking at their own conduct and their own practices.”
A judge dismissed the class-action claims, a move Bish said they will appeal, and ordered three of the advisers to address their complaints through arbitration.
Kwesi Coleman, one of the seven advisers who sued the bank, said his white colleagues excluded him from conversations after team meetings and a manager only shared a potential client lead with him once — a database of alumni of historically black colleges. After he spent his own money to earn a designation that would help market himself to National Football League players, he alleges the firm would only let him use it if he shared his revenue with a white financial adviser. After he filed a complaint with human resources, Coleman said, the firm later relented.
“I’ve always had to do more to get a leg up. … Going in, I knew I would have to work harder,” said Coleman, who joined Morgan Stanley as a trainee in 2012 with an MBA and more than 10 years of industry experience. “What I didn’t expect was to be basically held back. I didn’t expect to have opportunities withheld.”
Once, Coleman said, a white colleague noted the long hours he was working, stopped by his desk and asked: “How many top producers do you see that look like you?” he recalled. “He said, ‘Most people with money want to work with other people who look like them.’ He said it like it was nothing.“
Morgan Stanley declined to comment regarding Coleman’s specific allegations but in a statement “vigorously” denied the accusations in the lawsuit.
“Contrary to the dated and misguided assumptions in the complaint, we wholeheartedly believe diverse teams are often stronger teams, and that clients recognize the value that diversity of background, thought and perspective brings when they are looking for advice,” the statement said. The bank also said it allocates “substantial resources” to its diversity efforts and that “while there is much more to do, we are making steady progress."