Is diversity recruiting fair?

Not saying people who break in through diversity events are unqualified or unintelligent. I just don't understand how is it fair to give LGBTQ (or other minorities) people a huge advantage in the recruiting process.

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (78)

  • Prospect in Other
Apr 8, 2020 - 8:41pm

OFC it's not fair. It's a reverse-discrimination. Only diversity program has to be considered is one for veterans.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 8, 2020 - 8:55pm

Agree with this - veterans should be the only ones given outright benefits. I understand promoting diversity networking and more support during the actual course of the analyst/associate program, but these "must fill x% of the class with diversity" is leading to a wide gap between the capabilities/general quality of diversity and non-diversity candidates in the analyst class.

I understand discrimination happened in the past (coming from an Asian, so we faced it to), but the problem is banks are trying to go from 10% female/minority classes to 50% in such a short time (looking at you GS). Because of this, lots of undeserving kids are squeaking through.

Yes, I know that rich white kids got through on connections in the past, but since that's showing no indication of stopping, your connectionless non-diversity candidate is finding it much much harder to break in. So many PE/VC firms have analyst programs only for "women/minority/LGBTQ".

It's a zero sum game folks. From my end, I try to push candidates that don't benefit from these programs as hard as I can, but sometimes that's not enough.

  • Prospect in Other
Apr 8, 2020 - 8:58pm

Thanks for sharing your thought and thank you for what you are doing. Really appreciate that.

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Apr 8, 2020 - 8:48pm

I always felt like it was super unfair, until I ended up getting some opportunities through the "diverse" programs. Now, I don't want that to be the reason I break in. Gotta take what comes to you I guess.

Most Helpful
  • Intern in IB - Cov
Apr 8, 2020 - 8:51pm

Is systematic and structural discrimination fair? There's a reason why the vast majority of candidates hired outside these programs are upper/middle class white people. Realistically speaking, the hurdles that individuals from minorities face are much, much higher on average. Giving people the opportunity to be viewed separately is just a mechanism to account for the fact that, in the larger context of socioeconomic status and privilege, the fact that they have made it to the same place as the average straight white male (saying this as one myself) has required much more work. At the end of the day, there's a reason that in lieu of these programs, so many of those hired do fit the SWM template. These programs don't exist to take opportunities away from historically "standard" applicants, but rather to open up opportunities to structurally and systematically disenfranchised applicants who have done an unthinkable amount more to get to the same place. While I understand the frustration, both the history of finance and the world are incredibly white and male, which, without intervention, those same trends and structures continue to exist and create a self-perpetuating cycle of classist capital consolidation. To cite some empirical evidence, a valuable study done by Bertrand & Mullainathan found that applicants with "white-sounding" names were much more likely to get callbacks for jobs in general than those with "black-sounding" names, and even more frequently were likely to be channeled up, i.e. offered a position of higher seniority than the one they were applying for. I hope this provided at least a degree of clarity on the purpose of these programs both inside and outside the finance world, but I'm happy to discuss further if you disagree or find anything I said unsatisfactory.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 8, 2020 - 9:06pm

The standard applicant is not just rich, white male. Plenty of asians (who are fucking diverse in their own regard; it's a whole darn continent) and middle/lower-class white folk get absolutely fucked over by this system.

I wouldn't care if it's only finance since a lot of applicants are doing it just for the money, but this is happening in a lot of industries.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 8, 2020 - 9:11pm

At the end of the day, most of the candidates still come from outside of those programs, so they're not being "absolutely fucked" imo.

Apr 9, 2020 - 8:10am
Intern in IB - Ind:

Is systematic and structural discrimination fair? There's a reason why the vast majority of candidates hired outside these programs are upper/middle class white people. Realistically speaking, the hurdles that individuals from minorities face are much, much higher on average. Giving people the opportunity to be viewed separately is just a mechanism to account for the fact that, in the larger context of socioeconomic status and privilege, the fact that they have made it to the same place as the average straight white male (saying this as one myself) has required much more work. At the end of the day, there's a reason that in lieu of these programs, so many of those hired do fit the SWM template. These programs don't exist to take opportunities away from historically "standard" applicants, but rather to open up opportunities to structurally and systematically disenfranchised applicants who have done an unthinkable amount more to get to the same place. While I understand the frustration, both the history of finance and the world are incredibly white and male, which, without intervention, those same trends and structures continue to exist and create a self-perpetuating cycle of classist capital consolidation. To cite some empirical evidence, a valuable study done by Bertrand & Mullainathan found that applicants with "white-sounding" names were much more likely to get callbacks for jobs in general than those with "black-sounding" names, and even more frequently were likely to be channeled up, i.e. offered a position of higher seniority than the one they were applying for. I hope this provided at least a degree of clarity on the purpose of these programs both inside and outside the finance world, but I'm happy to discuss further if you disagree or find anything I said unsatisfactory.


I was writing my answer but have to read some topic back and found your answer. You just nailed it. Make your words mine. Guys like the OP or the other that answer "it's reverse discrimination" probably are a white privileged group that will never be subject of discrimination or lack of opportunities and they'll never understand what it is be a person in the other side. Empathy, my friend, that is what is been needed.
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:03am

This is true, however most of the people getting hired via diversity programs are just rich minorities who also went to Phillips Exeter.
I'd love to see some way devised of actually opening up these opportunities to truly underprivileged people, both minorities and white and asian kids from actually modest backgrounds.
Idk why you couldnt add like, Pell Grant recipients to diversity recruiting.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

Hi! I posted the comment you're replying to, and I would actually tend to agree that perhaps the greatest shortcoming of these programs is the inability to pay more accurate attention to socioeconomic status, but it's also difficult for employers (and even colleges via FAFSA) to fully gauge that, and it may not even be legal for them to request some of that information. That being said, though, one of the biggest emphases in IB recruitment is "culture", and the following question arises: at what point will individuals from non-traditional finance backgrounds feel as comfortable or accepted in white-dominated workplace culture? I did some work at a small office that was entirely white, with one Asian. For someone from a Latino or Black background, it would likely be a much more challenging environment to navigate. Putting individuals in the position to create a more comfortable/safe office macroculture for people from minority backgrounds to join also should have some merit, as often (and I can provide studies on this as well, but I'd have to go back and dig through my research) culture is used as an informally discriminative term to create a much more homogenous office demographically, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Additionally, one of the major issues that I failed to touch on in my above comment is the importance of connections. A few others have mentioned that one of the major benefits of being a white male is leveraging family connections. Creating inroads for people from different backgrounds to have individuals to reach out to at various offices that have the same or similar racial/ethnic/identity-based experiences is valuable in and of itself, regardless of an individual's socioeconomic status. A lot of the dissenting comments (and likely the source of much of the ms on my prior comment) have seemed to indicate that they believe representation is purely symbolic, but the question then arises as to whether representation in and of itself holds significant value beyond just being able to report statistics. The fact of the matter is that the United States is by no means a post-racial state or even one that handles race relations well, and to dismiss the importance of minority representation in any capacity entirely disregards the importance of fostering environments that people from non-white backgrounds can feel to which they can relate. Thus, in terms of the almighty discussion of "culture" and "fit", there are often underlying (and quite often unintentional!) biases that, as of right now, reflect a majority predisposition and could make it more difficult for non-white candidates to break in. I really appreciate your input and insight, and I really think you make a compelling statement here (and in a constructive way). Again, always happy to discuss further.

Apr 9, 2020 - 11:09am

Whilst I agree with part of this, if you look more closely to who these people in diversity programs are you'd be surprised. Often times it is some of the richest people within minorities and a white male coming from a poor neighborhood as our good friend Lloyd will missout out on the opportunity. But agreed life's not fair, but banks are trying to make it fairer by discriminating even more. I think that it would be more relevant to consider parents income rather than gender or race when it comes to diversity hiring, or a combination of the two factors. I'm sorry but if you're a black dude and your dad racks in $1m per year you've got nothing to do here.

Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

This so ridiculous and an asinine way to run a company. Eventually these companies will continue to lose talent to competitors that don't do this stuff, just like universities.

"Realistically speaking, the hurdles that individuals from minorities face are much, much higher on average."

ON AVERAGE!! Why would you give someone preferential treatment because they are apart of a group that "on average" has it tougher. Why not just look at the individual, and not the group, and make that decision. Why can't the straight white male from rural Oklahoma with meth heads for parents get this additional recruiting opportunity? What about the Chinese immigrant whose parents are rice farmers!? He can't because he is not looked at as an individual but instead as part of a larger group, one that he might not have that much in common with. Instead we need to give Colin Powell's grandson an additional recruiting opportunity because "on average" his race has a tougher childhood.

Also what is "On average"??? Talking about females? Sexy white blond rich females? Who went to private schools for 20 years? Or are you only talking about the poor African American from rural Georgia.

I agree there is value to assessing a candidate based on what hardships they have overcome. It shows character and perseverance but to assess that based on race, gender, and sexual orientation is in fact racist and sexist.

Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

it's this exact conventional and misleading thinking that is inconsistent with reality. don't dare count for poor white guys that had to fight through similar obstacles and poverty. I guess we forgot to make a diversity program for them. oops.

Apr 9, 2020 - 11:26am

Do you seriously think that an black / hispanic kid from the South-Side of Chicago is at bat for a job at Goldman Sachs? Most likely not. Most of the minorities I've ever ran into in Banking actually came from very affluent families. Hence these people were not affected by "systematic and structural discrimination".

This isn't even evening the scale between the rich white kid who went to Exeter / Harvard / GS. The people that get absolutely screwed are the middle class white and asian kids who might actually be able to provide a lot of great insight, but are losing offers out to the 3.2 GPA kid who went to Howard or Morehouse that essentially got a handout

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Apr 8, 2020 - 8:53pm

It's unfair but there's really not that many diveristy candidates, so there's a race to get the good ones

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 8, 2020 - 9:02pm

Im white and got a top BB IB SA gig because of personal connections. Fair? Maybe not, but good for me. Im still qualified and busted my ass to do well. Others would have done the same. I see this as similar.

Apr 8, 2020 - 11:33pm

As an Asian male, diversity recruiting pisses me the fuck off.

"They say money can't buy happiness? Look at the fuckin' smile on my face. Ear to ear, baby!" - Boiler Room

  • 2
  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 9, 2020 - 12:37am

Too bad you got nothing to distinguish yourself then. Plenty of other Asian males with no personal connections out there. If they were worth bringing in, they would be hired more.

Controversial
  • Prospect in 
Apr 8, 2020 - 11:47pm

It's completely fair. Anyone non-diversity who feels they wouldn't have an offer b/c of diversity recruiting is mad they don't stack up to their non-diverse peer set.

Banks want diversity because their CLIENTS are diverse. It has nothing to do with rich or poor or trying to help underserved communities get a chance (in most cases). It's about having the faces (and sexual orientations) at your bank match the faces (and sexual orientations) of the clients you're working with in an increasingly global world.

That is why banks are willing to pay and compete for diverse talent (often just as qualified) b/c it's hard to come by in an industry that's historically been primarily white. Basic supply and demand.

  • Prospect in Other
Apr 9, 2020 - 12:10am

"It's completely fair." Agree for the most part, but think emphasis should be more on socioeconomic condition.

"Banks want diversity because their clients are diverse." Banks want diversity for their image.

"Often just as qualified" Sometimes, yes, but the bar is clearly lower.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 9, 2020 - 12:21am

Bullshit, banks need to hire diversity candidates to fill quotas and improve their public image after the shit show of the 2008 crisis. There is nothing wrong with diversity but to say that banks want diversity because of their clients is inaccurate.

Apr 9, 2020 - 9:12am

it's client driven? what you've just suggested is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this forum is now dumber for having read it. I award you no bananas, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Apr 9, 2020 - 12:36am

Of course it's not fair. There's no reason why this process needs to be fair.

This job really isn't all that difficult at the analyst level, it's really just doing a lot very repetitive tasks and managing lots of workstreams. Hiring a 3.8 GPA white kid over a 3.5 GPA kid who falls into one of the diversity buckets isn't going to affect the bank that negatively from a revenue standpoint, especially given the 90%+ attrition rate between analyst and associate. Why not take the chance on the "less qualified" kid and gain tons of good PR in the process?

At the end of the day, the bank just cares about it's reputation, not maximizing the quality of its analyst class that are just going to dip in 2 years

  • Prospect in IB - Cov
Apr 9, 2020 - 8:03am

Obviously not. As a diversity recruit myself with a good GPA (above 3.7) and competitive internships, I can't exactly AVOID being diverse (I have to check a box every single time I apply). But to be completely honest OP's comment literally just proves the fact that there IS an underlying racism. How can you say that there's no difference and that it's unfair when a lot of people just see all non-white people as being less able, because the perception is that we only got in using these programs. In reality being from a decent school overall that is a non-target for most banks and coming from a background worlds away from banking, because I grew up poor and not even in this country, I'd be stupid to not take advantage of these opportunities. Overall, I liken these diversity programs to the mom and dad connections most of the white guys above me have. Also dude, stop being such a bitch about it because honestly, we don't even make up 10% of the applications, how many hispanic/black/gay bankers do you actually know?

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:24am

Checking the box is different from straight up applying to a diversity program. I know candidates that would fall under diversity who did (1) but not (2).

  • Prospect in IB - Cov
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

So let me get this straight, not taking advantage of something that eases your trouble and making it way easier to get an IB gig is a worthwhile exchange for gaining what? Your honor and respect instead? Lmao fuck off

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Apr 9, 2020 - 8:22am

Privileged white males have a huge advantage in the recruiting process - there is absolutely zero debate about that. Diversity just sets the playing field. Shouldn't be a problem if you were good enough to begin with, and not relying on white privilege for things to fall on to your lap.

Honestly, based on my experience, the minorities are the hungrier, harder working, and the very last folks to complain.

  • Prospect in Other
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

Funny how you overlook Asian male applicants. Asians are only categorized as minorities when it's convenient for other minorities. In the end, we don't get "white privilege" or diversity steroid shots during any application process. I graduated from MIT, and it's kind of crazy how "some" diversity kids that I met there even got in compared to my friends back at home. Of course, we just "deal with it." I mean what the fuck are we going to do politically we are still "minorities."

My dad used to say to not enter finance and just stick to medicine because the white guy is always going to get the promotion over me. Now, kids aren't worried about getting a promotion; rather, they are more worried about getting a fucking job.
Although I didn't recruit for IB, I still had to work my ass off to break into the hedgefund space.

Advice to prospective Asians: Worry about what you can control.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

Pretty much this - all the SJW's commenting on this thread conveniently ignore this fact. The truth is nobody cares - as long as it benefits them who cares that asian males are being discriminated so heavily against (all the minority drawbacks + none of the benefits).

Part of that is our fault - we don't stand up for ourselves. Well things are changing, which is why I do my best to push these candidates through.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 9, 2020 - 8:51am

is it fair that once dad is buddies or family friends with people in bank all you get is a telephone interview and offer, if DR fills 20% of spots, what's described above fills 60% of spots.

  • Summer Associate in IB - Cov
Apr 9, 2020 - 8:52am

My issue with diversity recruiting is about gender rather than race. This is not to say that girls are less capable at all. Some are even more capable. But the reality is that maybe 20% of applicants are female. So for a bank to get to a 50/50 split, they have to hire a very high percentage of the girls. Because of this they end up hiring some very qualified candidates but also some that shouldn't be there.

This didn't necessarily make it harder for me to find a job. I was mostly frustrated by seeing how little effort was put in by some while I was busting my ass for an internship.

I also don't think it's fair for the qualified candidates. It puts them in a bucket with unqualified people rather than the rest of the class.

  • Prospect in 
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:08am

I am pretty curious as to what you're referring to when you talk about "qualified candidates". The overwhelming consensus is that IB is not a hard job - this is not quant work or medical school. I go to a top three school and most of the kids do banking are white and extremely rich NYC, LA, or Fairfield CT kids - I am black and middle class. The majority of kids who end up at banks are largely self-selecting and that is what diversity recruiting attempts to address. How hard you had to bust your ass while looking for an internship had little to do with a diversity hire. You mention "unqualified" and people who "shouldn't be there" in your post but I can guarantee that almost anyone who worked in finance knows many more incompetent men in the industry than women - yet you're going to make a post voicing your concerns over the quality of female candidates.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

That's because there are far more men than women in finance, so yes, the gross # of incompetent men is likely also greater. But on a per capita basis, the opposite is true, since the hurdles are lowered for acceptance.

All this applies really just to the more junior levels, by the way. It's all performance once you reach Director+. A female (or basically any) MD is basically guaranteed to be a star since it's a pretty binary "how much did you sell" that keeps you employed.

  • Summer Associate in IB - Cov
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

Maybe qualified is the wrong word. I'm not saying that banks shouldn't hire women. I'm saying that everyone should be expected to prepare. If you can't at a minimum learn the 400 guide, then you're just being lazy. I personally know people that got top offers without knowing how to explain a LBO. To go to a superday without studying just shows entitlement. The banks have made it too obvious how badly they want to hire these candidates.

My problem isn't with equality. My problem is with how the banks have gone about it. The banks could target a diverse hiring mix through traditional recruiting. I don't see the need for a separate process. And personally I think the notion that everyone on wall street got the job from their rich dad's connections, is ridiculous. Yes they're out there just like any industry, but I know quite a few people in the industry and not a single one got it from their parents.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

Female MBA associates are definitely weaker on average; to your point, there aren't exactly a lot of ~30 year-old women looking to spend ~80 hours a week in the office, so firms have to end up taking a fatter slice of the talent distribution if they're shooting for a 50/50 class. That said, pretty tough to hide as you progress, so the differential shrinks quite rapidly as underperformers are culled or leave on their own accord.

Less an issue (though bar still lowered) for 22 year-old women fresh out of undergrad.

  • Summer Associate in IB - Cov
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

Yes sorry i am talking to my experience during mba recruiting.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

Can confirm this - it's especially evident with MBA classes. Analysts on the other hand is pretty much a wash, especially for EBs where applicants are mostly judged by their merit (this is slowly changing as they get bigger and need to look at optics).

  • Prospect in Other
Apr 9, 2020 - 9:05am

What about Asians guys? Say white guys have advantage as you guys are saying. White and Asian female have women's program, black and Hispanic male can apply diversity, black and hispanic female can apply both women's and diversity.

Isn't it unfair for Asian guys to have not a single program that they can apply for. Is the industry forcing them to be homosexual?

It's just obviously unreasonable.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 9, 2020 - 9:34am

As an asian guy who destroys the curve at a lower ivy who probably deserved to be at a better one and one who barely got into banking and landed a pretty good BB (and literally knowing I got dinged for being asian at some other BBs) I take it as motivation to be the best analyst. These diversity kids won't know what hit them.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:01am

If you think a diversity candidate (non-female) took your "spot" you were very likely a weak candidate anyway. If you can't outcompete like 10 minority kids in a pool of a thousand applicants, you have bigger issues.

Apr 9, 2020 - 11:06am

Is diversity recruiting fair? In my opinion, no.

But, do I believe no efforts should be made to encourage traditionally under-represented groups in finance to apply? Absolutely not.

My point of view essentially boils down to the following:

Equality of Opportunity > Equality of Outcome

We should aim to remove the barriers to entry there are for those less-fortunate. What are those barriers? For me, they are Access to a Professional Network, Mentors, Professional Training and Education.

I think banks should only focus on addressing the first 3 of the aforementioned barriers, the last one is largely taken care of by the academic scholarship system.

This is where I think the line needs to be drawn. No mandatory hiring quotas. Hire on merit only.

But, max out all your effort on addressing the barriers and I think there will be no need for quotas. Good applications from under-represented groups will increase organically.

Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

Is it fair? No, a lot of deserving asian/white kids who may have grown up disadvantaged are getting dinged over less qualified "diversity" kids. That being said, is it necessary? Yes.

Array
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

Accusantium et illo nihil est autem rerum. Deleniti ipsam aut atque omnis consequatur iure. Quas deleniti minima vitae.

Natus aliquid earum a voluptas sed inventore odio. Aspernatur minus est blanditiis voluptas repellat deleniti cum. Veniam sequi maiores non consequatur quisquam in. Aut autem vero eum eaque quaerat dolorem voluptatibus sit.

Molestias repudiandae porro esse alias sunt veniam. Placeat similique quia quaerat est fuga ut. Eligendi est debitis atque numquam id. At et eos suscipit quo ut eum laboriosam iusto. Incidunt magni commodi veniam quas.

Ut quia ut nobis sed iure. Sed ipsum dolorem magni. Reprehenderit et vel temporibus quasi. Est consequatur atque veritatis.

  • Associate 2 in IB - Cov
Apr 9, 2020 - 11:25am

Autem et dolores molestiae quidem rem voluptatem. Hic similique enim ea odio cupiditate ea dignissimos. Occaecati voluptatem dolorum qui voluptas quidem enim quis possimus. Nulla facere odio voluptas pariatur. Repudiandae sunt inventore harum quis corrupti. Qui illo pariatur dolorem delectus. Eos voluptatem et sunt itaque.

Apr 9, 2020 - 11:26am

Qui odio ad eaque ut quia et. Enim quia id tempora non ratione pariatur voluptate. Eum culpa aliquam facilis officia doloribus dolores reprehenderit.

Ipsa voluptas accusantium dignissimos. Reprehenderit ut labore corporis aut. Rerum et beatae numquam ut enim nam fugit. Asperiores odit quia et aliquam quasi.

Quidem veritatis placeat totam. Aperiam et architecto deserunt tenetur neque. Vitae labore impedit corrupti error nam est velit quibusdam.

Cumque non cum ducimus dignissimos pariatur eum. Adipisci recusandae cupiditate perferendis in molestiae et consequuntur. Nihil nobis deserunt laudantium exercitationem sint repellendus. Veniam quaerat et reiciendis suscipit sunt eum.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

December 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $853
  • Vice President (40) $360
  • Associates (237) $235
  • 2nd Year Analyst (145) $156
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (34) $154
  • Intern/Summer Associate (107) $146
  • 1st Year Analyst (515) $136
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (396) $84