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Morning Coffee: Bank photoshopped same people into 'diversity collage.' Citi's super-complicated non-hire

Those portraits of industrious investment bank employees showing one or two white men surrounded by a sea of female black and brown faces have always seemed a little suspect. After all, banks' own diversity reports show that beyond the most junior ranks there are almost no black or hispanic people in banking. Now it seems that at least one bank has been cheating.

In a series of interviews about the experience of being black in banking, Bloomberg spoke to Tessie Petion, the head of ESG Engagement at Amazon and former head of ESG Engagement at HSBC in the Americas. Petion also worked for Deutsche Bank and interned at Citi. Without naming names, Petion said that one of the banks she worked for assembled a diversity collage to depict its ethnically diverse employees, but that when she looked closely she saw that they'd simply added her over and over again to compensate for the fact that she was one of the only ones.  

"You could spot me in the class, several times. There was me, [and] an East Asian woman—she’s actually Brazilian but of East Asian descent—and a South Asian man," said Petion. "We played 'spot each other' [on the] huge collage. I was on it at least three times, if not four. The East Asian woman was on it twice. The South Asian man was on it three times." 

Petion says the bank didn't seem overly worried about its duplicity. "It was like, this is a celebration of diversity? And I just remember thinking, Do you not see the irony here? No. OK, great. Awesome."

Elsewhere in the same article, another interviewee notes that there are plenty of black people around in banks at this time of year (or at least that there are usually, when offices are occupied), but that this is also deceptive. "The summer at the bank would look different than the winter at the bank, because there were a lot more young Black people [interning]. [But they] didn’t get offers," said Jared Johnson, a former JPMorgan associate who left in 2017.

Separately, Citi might rue the day that it contemplated hiring Joseph Genovese, who as we reported last week has ended up joining Cowen and Company in New York. Citi was reportedly close to hiring Genovese in March this year, but pulled out following claims about his past behaviour. The person who made those claims is now suing Citi himself after he says he was retaliated against for blowing the whistle on the incoming hire. The whistleblower also claims that Citi discriminated against him because he was gay, and that he was denied an MD promotion on the grounds of his sexual orientation. In a statement to Bloomberg, Citi said it took the allegations very seriously and that they had been "independently and thoroughly reviewed and not substantiated.”


HSBC shares are at their lowest level in over a decade. (Financial Times)

HSBC is restricting the lift to two people in London. “It can take 15 minutes to get out for lunch at the best of times." (Financial News)

SocGen fell as much as 4.4% in early Paris trading and declined 2.7% as of 1:07 p.m yesterday. The stock has lost about 59% this year, making it one of Europe’s worst-performing banks. (Bloomberg) 

Natixis chief executive resigned after the bank announced a second quarter loss of €57m. that François Riahi is leaving “due to strategic differences regarding the options of Natixis’s future plan.” (Financial Times) 

JPMorgan appointed veteran dealmaker David Freedman to lead its newly-created global shareholder engagement and M&A capital markets group as it bolsters its activist defense practice.  (Financial Times) 

People talk about the “Black tax”—for me the Black tax at the office is the time I have to spend thinking about how people are going to react to my appearance. (Bloomberg) 

Wall Street women who could work for a Biden administration include: Sallie Krawcheck, the former chief financial officer of Citigroup; Alphabet Inc. CFO Ruth Porat, who held the same job at Morgan Stanley; and Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments and a board member of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (Bloomberg)

New hedge funds to watch out for include: XN LP from Gaurav Kapadia, Hein Park Capital Management from Courtney Carson, Washington Harbour from Mina Faltas, Untitled Investments from Neeraj Chandra, and Alua Capital Management from Tom Purcell and Marco Tablada. (Wall Street Journal) 

I was grossly underpaid relative to my colleagues. Grossly, shockingly, eye-poppingly underpaid relative to my peers who were White. When I told one person [an Asian-American], she was like, “Brigette, I don't even want to tell you what I got because I feel so bad.”  (Bloomberg) 

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Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Sk
    4 August 2020

    It might also be worth pointing out that Wall Street doesn’t even understand true diversity. The ironic thing about this ‘diversity collage’ is that it’s not – even though it tries to be. It’s as black as those photos that are dominantly white, or Hispanic, or female, or “under forty”. I’m not suggesting Wall Street is unique in this perspective, and I applaud you for putting out there what we all know, BUT can we start by defining what is diversity. This problem goes way beyond the larger banks. In my career I worked for one of the largest minority brokers on Wall Street. You’d think that minority firms would want to promote diversity, but it’s as bad there as it is in the photo in your article, just a different color of racism. Take a look at some of the “leadership” or management photos on minority firm websites. You don’t have to look far to see that they are not any more diverse than any other firm on Wall Street. But did you know that minority firms by virtue of the fact that they are majority owned by a minority or a woman ( generally referred to as Women or Minority Business Enterprises or WMBEs) are awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in MANDATED commissions from some of the largest state and local pensions in this country every year. This is big business. While women and minorities need all the representation on Wall Street they can get, is this the best way to go about it? Or is this promoting the very behavior we are trying to work against?

    Wall Street needs diversity but we first need to understand what that means – and we need to hold every firm accountable in their wallet for being diverse.

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