Wall Street is rooted in an old boys network. In a report titled “The Progress and Pitfalls of Diversity on Wall Street,” which was based on census data from the past decade, it is clear that while white men still make up the majority of higher-paying positions, there are demographic changes in the financial landscape that are underway, leading to more diversity—in part due to programs like the ones listed in this article. While women and African Americans have seen less progress on a relative basis compared to Hispanics and other immigrants, the study finds the trends are all moving in one direction: toward a more diverse financial industry.
Tales of extravagance as well as stereotypes of debauchery and sexism have long fascinated the media and entertainment industries—The Wolf of Wall Street is only the latest movie in a series of shocking films that highlight the industry’s unwelcoming past. (American Psycho ring a bell?)
Since most of the stories shared in the mainstream media are caricatures of the personalities you find in finance, they fail to give a realistic depiction of the current state of Wall Street. Lost in the race for catchy headlines about Goldman Sachs and big-money book deals about anecdotal extremes, are the majority of employees that welcome diversity and go about their jobs like employees you would find in any other industry.
The problem with that story is that it is boring, so it rarely gets covered. But the problem with sensationalism is that it can turn off certain groups from a particular industry if they believe these extremes as commonplace. That makes the work of these three diversity programs crucial. The reality is that today, more than ever, there are many great careers available on Wall Street to young, ambitious college students from all backgrounds.
It’s tough to overstate how far underrepresented groups have come on Wall Street in the last few decades. That being said, there is still a lot of work to be done. The following programs help give deserving underrepresented women and minorities a leg up in recruiting. If you’re interested in a career in finance or business, you should definitely investigate further.
1. 85 Broads: This strong, global network of women was started by a Goldman Sachs alum and has become the gold standard for helping women start and successfully navigate their professional careers. While initially comprised of only women who worked at Goldman Sachs, the group now includes professional women across all industries.
2. SEO: This program provides underrepresented students entry into highly competitive internships. SEO is particularly strong on Wall Street, placing many interns every year into front office roles at investment banks.
3. INROADS: While this program is not as selective as SEO and doesn’t place as well on Wall Street, it does have strong partnerships for internships in corporate finance and development, as well as other business internships.
Whatever industry you target, remember to consider finance and Wall Street, and do not believe everything you see in the movies. These three programs can provide a great support network and land you an internship in some of the most competitive, rewarding and high-paying fields in the world.