Bloomberg Equality: Race, Money and Wall Street
By Sasha Qadri, Bloomberg Live
Bloomberg’s August 6 Equality virtual briefing, Race, Money and Wall Street, featured a series of conversations with key voices and business leaders in the finance and diversity space. These sessions were led by Bloomberg’s: Scarlet Fu, Sonali Basak, Jason Kelly and Patrick Garrigan. Speakers included:
- William Goodloe, President & CEO, SEO
- Carla Harris, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Morgan Stanley
- Henry R. Kravis, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., and Chairman, SEO
- Dick Parsons, Senior Advisor, Providence Equity Partners, Former Chairman, Citigroup and Time Warner
- Anilu Vazquez-Ubarri, Partner, Chief Human Resources Officer, TPG
- Sonali Basak, Bloomberg Financial Correspondent
- Scarlet Fu, Bloomberg Television Anchor
- Patrick Garrigan, Global Head, Bloomberg Live
- Jason Kelly, New York Bureau Chief; Co-Anchor, Bloomberg Businessweek Television and Radio
Click here to view video of the full discussion.
A few of the key takeaways:
Dick Parsons, Senior Advisor, Providence Equity Partners, Former Chairman, Citigroup and Time Warner, defined himself as a long-term optimist but a frustrated one. “We need to change the fundamentals. Radical change for radical change’s sake isn’t the answer. We have to understand the nature of the problem and then make the changes to deal with that.” He cautioned about simply throwing money at the issue. “Having been at this place before and having thought we could deal with the problem through massive government programs which cost billions of dollars which have only dealt with the surface of the problem, I hope we don’t make that mistake again — that we think we can buy our way out of the problem.” For Parsons, the next leader needs to be a unifier. “The next President needs to embrace the problem, acknowledge the problem and that it’s a problem for all Americans and that we need to come together instead of beating the problem on a divide and conquer basis.”
Carla Harris, Vice Chairman and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, said the continued protests have underscored that this time is different. “The daily protests have really solidified in people’s minds that they need to change the culture, it needs to be different. Things will not be the same.” Harris went on to describe how we are “in a perfect storm in a way that we haven’t been before,” citing a bad economic environment, social unrest, a viral pandemic and the ensuing health care crisis. “Smart people are taking advantage of this time to make the culture change that they needed to.” For Harris, if you want to be sure you have a broad view of all the talent that’s out there, you need to be intentional about all the people you recruit. “We created opportunities for kids in high school so we could see the talent as early as possible. When you haven’t grown up in an environment where financial services is a natural topic at the dinner table, as it was not for me, then organizations like SEO make all the difference for colleges reaching out to talk to you.”
Henry R. Kravis, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., and Chairman, SEO, said that when it comes to diversity there is a long way to go. “We’re behind, Wall Street is behind, the C-suite is behind. We’ve all been slow in recognizing the problem and doing something about it. I really believe now we have an opportunity to make a big difference. There’s no question the numbers are bleak.” Kravis emphasized that the change starts at the top. “If the CEO of any company has made a decision that they are going to make a change and a difference — it will happen. We all have to overcome the unconscious biases that exist everywhere. It starts not only with the CEO but with the board of directors. If the board of directors is a diverse board, you’ll start to have a change.” Kravis said that it’s not just about the hiring, it’s about taking a longer-term view. “Don’t’ just check the box and say ‘I’ve hired them, now they’re on their own’ because many times they won’t succeed. If you’re going to be successful with this. it’s not the hiring, you’ve got to have training programs in order to build retention.”
“We know that talent is widely distributed and yet it’s unevenly developed. The real change will come when we change the systems and structures” said William Goodloe, President & CEO, SEO. Goodloe emphasized the importance of diversity at all levels of an organization, stating, “It’s well documented that diverse teams are more innovative, more insightful and produce better results. Ultimately, by helping folks get started in Wall St. and other coveted areas, we are giving them a voice in institutional decision making. On boards, we know the more diverse these decision-making groups are, the better decisions and the more equitable the policies and the systems will be.” Goodloe concluded one of the most effective ways to make change is via partnerships instead of looking to friends, colleagues and contacts for new hires.
Anilu Vazquez-Ubarri, Partner, Chief Human Resources Officer, TPG (sponsor of this roundtable) spoke about the importance of open conversations, empowering employees and being kept accountable for making change. “There will be gaps, but your employees have to feel brave enough to tell you where the gaps are. You need truth-tellers around you. Ask for feedback constantly. You need to know where you stand and where you want to go.” To stay motivated in this process, Vazquez-Ubarri suggested talking to other peer firms, creating a network and to “sometimes just vent” as everything doesn’t always work out the right way. “Try not to take a step back, study why it didn’t work. Be strategic and scrappy.”
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