(Bloomberg) – Wall Street’s pledge last year to fight racism sparked a parade of pledges, few of which have more concrete plans to support historically black colleges and universities. Kellye Blackburn, the director of career services at Grambling State University in Louisiana, said her phone rang after the murder of George Floyd.
It’s quieter now.
The industry will tell you that it has spent billions of dollars to support racial justice – and it has. But in the offices, progress is slow for black school students, according to those familiar with the data. In these gigantic institutions, hopes of revolutionary change meet entrenched attitudes.
While Goldman Sachs Group Inc. almost doubled the number of HBCU interns to 37, the graduates only got three full-time positions more than in the previous year. At JPMorgan Chase & Co., the number of employees at HBCU decreased, although the number of black graduates at all of the bank’s locations increased. Wells Fargo & Co., which employs hundreds of thousands, more than doubled its full-time and internship staff to 72 in May.
Blackburn can’t get rid of the feeling that “a lot of companies have contacted us to fulfill their social responsibility efforts” and would like to see banks expand their presence in more locations, especially the smaller ones. For students who have finances in their sights, stepping in the door is just the beginning. Hungry to change the system from the inside out, driven to build black wealth, fueled by the burst of interest and hope it will last, so 16 current and alumni from Spelman, Morehouse and some of the other 100 or so so schools devoted to black education.
The banks have announced all aid to HBCUs, which awarded around 50,000 degrees in 2018 and has been an engine nurturing black talent for decades. Most of America’s largest firms have promised to increase their recruitment while working to improve diversity across the board. Goldman is allocating $ 25 million for a five-year program and plans to double the number of HBCU employees by 2025. Citigroup Inc. funded a career incubator while JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley introduced scholarships.
“I’m glad that everything happened,” said Spelman in honor of student Anisah Thomas about the industry’s efforts. “But why didn’t it happen earlier?” She was on the winning team for Goldman’s new Market Madness program, which saw 125 HBCU students compete against each other to present the best case study. Her team got $ 1 million for school and she will be doing an internship at the bank next year.
She will join a company whose profits have been less dramatic for full-time analysts than for interns. Although the company hired 17 more summer interns from HBCUs than last year, and the percentage of black summer interns rose from 12% to 17%, the number of full-time HBCU jobs rose from 22 last year to 25. Across all US locations, it remained the percentage of black hires at the bank was 12% of the total. Overall, blacks make up 12.4% of the U.S. population and 6.8% of the bank’s U.S. workforce, up from 6.6% last year.
The biggest Wall Street banks all say they want to be more diverse. You can get there through the dormitories of students like Kareem Michel, whose family moved from Haiti to Atlanta. At Morehouse, he got a summer position on JPMorgan’s pre-study internship program, Advancing Black Pathways, then a week-long winter position at Moelis & Co., and this summer a Goldman internship. The junior already started an internship at Perella Weinberg Partners next summer. He said his parents and Morehouse prepared him to be in rooms that don’t have as many black faces as HBCUs.
“You raised me in America,” he said. “I expect the eyes to look at me.”
Of JPMorgan’s 3,765 new hires this year, 107 were from HBCUs, down from 150 last year. At the same time, the bank’s black hires rose from 407 to 659 – or 18% of the total from 12%. Citigroup, which said it had been trying to recruit more from HBCUs for years and whose chief financial officer Mark Mason is a Howard graduate and trustee, declined to disclose statistics.
It’s not always clear that executives realize how much talent is out there. Wells Fargo chief executive Charlie Scharf apologized last September after suggesting that the bank’s struggle to find seasoned black executives was due to a limited talent pool. He called it “an insensitive comment that reflects my own unconscious bias”. One of his newest employees is Kirk Miller, who was introduced to the bank through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund leadership program while at Kentucky State University and became his family’s first graduate in May.
“I would be lying if I said it wasn’t intimidating,” Miller said in July. Growing up, his stepmother was one of the few people he knew who worked at a bank, and she was a cashier. Feeling more comfortable in August, he was preparing to move to Charlotte and considering becoming an investment banker or an asset manager.
Breanna Crutcher, a junior at Langston University, Oklahoma’s only HBCU, spoke to her advisor about big banks. “I’ve made up my mind, let’s try.” She did an internship at Wells this summer with a focus on technology for investment management. While working remotely, she found that most of her coworkers don’t look like her. “It might be a little daunting to other people,” she said. “That kind of motivated me.”
Smaller schools are particularly concerned about recruiting. Wells Fargo is the only Big Six bank to partner with Langston’s Job Office. Wells and Goldman are recruiting from Rust College, Mississippi, all work with Howard, and none work with Southern University in New Orleans, which the schools say has a college of business. Goldman plans to recruit 25 of the schools in the coming months, while Wells is recruiting 20 and working with more than 50.
Morgan Stanley and Bank of America did not send any data on HBCU employment in 2021. In the latter area, the number of new hires on the Black Campus campus increased from 9% in 2015 to 13% in 2020. Sonnia Thomas Shields, the company’s global director of campus recruiting, graduated from Hampton, where a visit from an investment banker fueled her career. As the bank was remotely recruiting during the pandemic, it expanded its pool to 64 HBCUs. She couldn’t tell if the bank stopped all of them.
By the time Alex Jenkins represented the school in the Goldman competition, Spelman’s economist had already attended Citigroup’s HBCU Innovation and Leadership Symposium, Blackstone Group Inc.’s Diverse Leaders Program, and a training program run by billionaire Byron Trotts BDT Capital Partners. That summer, Jenkins did an internship at Centerview Partners. She realized that there are banks that are working hard to deepen relationships with black talent, “and companies that just have a diversity program and go ahead and say, ‘Okay, we did something and that was it. ‘”
Getting HBCU stars in the door is one thing – keeping them is another. Angel Caston, a Goldman financial analyst with the firm who graduated from Southern University and A&M College in 2018, has been matched with a Spelman team for Market Madness. She left the bank before the competition ended.
“I was burned out by Wall Street culture,” said Caston, who is now a senior analyst with Old Navy. “I just didn’t want to be there anymore.”
To contact the author of this story:
Max Abelson in New York [email protected]