My Issues with Diversity Recruiting in Finance

Hey all, hope everyone is doing well, and has had a nice holiday season.

I have seen a bunch of posts talking about "diversity", and it might come as a shock to you when I say, as an African man in finance, I'm quite sick of it.

Bit of my background: I am an African who moved to the U.S as a kid. Went to a non-target school, interned in IB in A big city, and now work there full time. Studied Comp Science and kept a >3.8GPA, As well as had a few decent internships, and studied technicals until i dreamed about Unlevered free cash flow. So when I got my SA role, I was really pumped, and felt like i had truly worked for it.

I made friends with other summer analysts from firms all over The city, and met a lot of great and intelligent minority interns. However, I also met minority interns who did not understand basic financial metrics and had subpar GPAs. I have to say, as a black man in finance, it didn't make me happy to see these kids at firms simply because there were more black people and the banks were more "diverse". It actually made me extremely annoyed. It made me feel like my white coworkers assumed that I had a 3.2 and only got my job because I was black, and just labeled me "diversity". Just as I've never wanted anything taken away from me because of my skin color, I have never wanted anything handed to me either.

Make no mistake, as a minority in finance, I truly understand how hard it can be, especially in a city that isn't so diverse. I was the only black intern at my firm, and i often could not relate to (or even understand) what the other interns were talking about. I knew nothing about golf, the school sports rivalries or even the fancy clubs they went to. However, I never judged these people for having a different upbringing than i did, just as i wouldn't want them to judge me!

Here's where it gets a little controversial. I don't believe that it is the responsibility of firms to try to increase the minority populations in their company. I mean it. I'm serious. I'm sick and tired of hearing this diversity push on the news everyday. I believe that as minorities, it is OUR responsibility to send the ladder back down and let our people in. Why should these firms make it an effort to force people they don't know (some of whom are highly unqualified), into their firms, simply because of the color of their skin? Goldman (for example) wants the best and brightest employees, why should they have to screen for race too? Again, as a minority in finance, i understand how hard it can be to break in. I don't come from money, and didn't have any fancy connections to get into finance. But I'm quite sick of hearing about pity job offers, and seeing people with 3.2 GPAs in places where quite frankly, they don't belong. As minorities it is up to us to teach aspiring financial professionals in the places we come from. Keep in mind that there are also white kids who don't have the fancy resources to break into finance either. Should they just be thrown to the side? I don't think that's completely fair either.

What are your thoughts about this? Would love to hear from some black professionals (if there are any on this forum), as well as some white folks (not the ones who want to come at me with that MAGA stuff though, not on your side lol).

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Comments (211)

Dec 27, 2019 - 3:04pm

I don't think there should be any "pity" job offers but I do think firms should strive for diversity simply because it makes them stronger all together, at least in my opinion.

Dec 27, 2019 - 3:19pm

One thing that comes to mind is a firms global outreach. It's not directly tied to color of skin or how someone looks but more where they are from and how they grew up.
If all a firms employees had all the exact same upbringing and mindset they would probably struggle with gaining international clients as opposed to a firm that already has someone knowledgeable about the countries political structure, social norms, values etc.

I also think about it like if two firms were exactly the same but one was diverse and the other was not which would you choose?

I would go with the diverse firm but that's just me. So I think diversity can also attract talent sometimes.

Dec 27, 2019 - 3:27pm

what if (just a thought) these firms are increasing the minority population to take advantage of cheap labor (again, just a thought) and not because 'diversity is our strength'? I was a diversity hire and made significantly less compared to my cohort.

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Dec 27, 2019 - 3:31pm

Hey Analyst! Appreciate the response. Definitely sorry to hear that you feel that way. But in 2019, with the amount of lawsuits banks are facing everyday, I don't feel as though they would engage in something as downright scandalous as hiring minorities just to pay them less. If such a thing came out that could single handedly ruin a firm these days. Not to say there aren't some minorities being paid less for racist reasons. If you don't mind me asking are you IB?

Dec 27, 2019 - 3:32pm

I know where you're coming from. I used to work at a place that hired minorities as "temps" paid them significantly less and then after a few months of proving themselves would take them on full time and still pay them less. I'm a minority myself and went through that exact situation so it definitely happens.

Dec 31, 2019 - 1:37pm

I know where you're coming from. I used to work at a place that hired minorities as "temps" paid them significantly less and then after a few months of proving themselves would take them on full time and still pay them less. I'm a minority myself and went through that exact situation so it definitely happens.

Get a lawyer and sue the shit out of them.

Dec 27, 2019 - 4:00pm

Just a few thoughts, not saying diversity programs are necessarily right or wrong, but that there's more to consider:

-Do you know for a fact that these black interns got their offers because they were black? This job isn't hard intellectually, you don't really need to be that smart for most parts of it or even know that much coming in. I heard throughout recruiting that people would rather have someone who didn't know a lot but had a good attitude and worked hard over someone with a bad attitude who knew a ton

-Why would it not be the responsibility of a company to determine what people the company employs? There are definitely benefits to diversity. I've heard several times at work that it doesn't look great when a team page or recruiting team is exclusively white men (not saying it's bad to be a white man, but I assume unless you're presenting to only other white men people when there's not a single woman or person of color it stands out to people)

-what would be the mechanism for black people to get other black people into the industry? ....Diversity programs like SEO? Taking time out of their already busy life to find black kids to mentor?

-Also part of the issue with just saying more women/POC should come to the industry themselves is, with many firms having so few women and people of color, I knew very well qualified people in college who turned down offers because they went to a superday and decided they didn't want to be the only minority or woman in their group/firm. A big factor for me when choosing between to banks was that at one my interviewers were pretty diverse and at the other bank the only person I met who wasn't a white man was the recruiter

Dec 27, 2019 - 4:11pm

Hey! Incredible and well thought out response here. I truly appreciate it.

Of course you can never say people only got the offer for a fact because they were black, and IB isn't quite an intellectually challenging job, but I have not met a white kid in finance with a 3.2 GPA (At a decent firm at least). While the work isn't hard, IBs are known for screening for the most competitive and polished on paper candidates. You're very spot on though. It does look bad when a firm is full of all white males, but i feel like that's part of the overall issue here. I feel like this push for diversity is just to benefit the way firms look you know? Maybe im just proud and stubborn, but as a minority, I still want to be held to the same standards that my peers are held to. But i guess it comes down to the fact that many minorities don't grow up with the same resources, and for that reason, there simply aren't as many polished minorities available as white people. Also, a lot of the white people in finance (not all), have been bred for IB since they were kids. So in that sense, it really comes down to leveling the playing field.

Dec 27, 2019 - 4:30pm

I mean, yes, recruiting minorities is very much to benefit the firm so they look more diverse and can attract clients and employees who care about that.

But it's not like they're screwing the kids they recruit. The kids get $120-200k a year for 2 years and the potential to be rich or at least upper middle class for the rest of their career


Edit: This also might be controversial to say, but I don't care. The "diversity recruiting takes spots away from applicants who actually deserved the spot" argument doesn't really click for me because

a) some investment bank doesn't owe any college student anything. almost every banking class is majority ORM men, they all managed to get the offer just fine.

b) I realized pretty quickly during my internship how many other interns had a parent who was a partner at a fund we did business with or their parents were friends with some MD or their mom was head of PE at a law firm our bank used a lot or even just someone from their school recruiting team called them the day before their interview and gave them the answers. Finance recruiting is not a level playing field -- these diversity recruiting programs are just more out in the open. Finance isn't a meritocratic industry and I don't see why people expect the recruiting to be either

Dec 27, 2019 - 4:35pm

Hey! Incredible and well thought out response here. I truly appreciate it.

Of course you can never say people only got the offer for a fact because they were black, and IB isn't quite an intellectually challenging job, but I have not met a white kid in finance with a 3.2 GPA (At a decent firm at least). While the work isn't hard, IBs are known for screening for the most competitive and polished on paper candidates. You're very spot on though. It does look bad when a firm is full of all white males, but i feel like that's part of the overall issue here. I feel like this push for diversity is just to benefit the way firms look you know? Maybe im just proud and stubborn, but as a minority, I still want to be held to the same standards that my peers are held to. But i guess it comes down to the fact that many minorities don't grow up with the same resources, and for that reason, there simply aren't as many polished minorities available as white people. Also, a lot of the white people in finance (not all), have been bred for IB since they were kids. So in that sense, it really comes down to leveling the playing field.

I wrote a long post but got some annoying WSO error which deleted it (must be the world telling me something) . I assure you there are plenty of subpar people in banking and the industry. It's called nepotism or falling through the cracks. If you don't see it at this level, you'll see it later on. I promise. On all sides of the industry.

OP - You are coming off as someone with a giant ego. If IB/this industry was purely merit, there would be a lot more women and Asians at or near the top. But that's not the case is it? We've heard it. Women take time off to get kids. Asians are nerdy etc. But at higher levels it comes down to percieved "fit" and "management material" and guess what that profile usually is?

I don't know if you have been following the news the last 5-10 years but the industry is facing tons of headwinds. Despite stock markets being at all time highs and yields near the low and vol being muted (part of the problem, the latter two), markets businesses, HFs, long onlys etc have been crushed. Tough to justify fees when Vanguard at 3bps is crushing you. Banks have been shedding jobs like none other. HF launches are at near lows and fee pressure is high. Ditto long onlys. Companies are playing IBs off of each other on fees. It's a race to the bottom. Client bases are changing and banks have to adjust to that as well.

Why not help recruit/train at your firm or at your school and be a part of the solution? Bring others up with you. Maybe help the 3.2s? There are tons of interns that interview well and have great grades, that come and read stuff here and can model and stuff, but once you ask them to actually think, they can't do anything. Its frustrating (and it's not just me, I've heard this from lots of friends) because if we knew the interns were clueless then we would be ready for it. I always thought internships were training exercises (since well, they are internships to people with no experience) rather than "hit the ground running" but maybe I'm too old and outdated.

As an underrepresented minority you are going to be typecast. Probably for your whole life. I have been. Sad I know. I've been there.

Finally there is enormous pressure for Firms to be or look diverse. From the public, governments, people etc. This is an easy way for firms to tick the box and to recruit at schools. How many of these people do you think will make it? Also on GPAs, tons of guys at the top today did not have great grades. They stumbled in, or knew someone/played the right sport or whatever. Of course the industry was far less competitive then....

Good Luck

I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
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Dec 28, 2019 - 10:20am

I work at MS IBD and I've certainly met people of other races (including white) that have below average GPAs. While I agree no one should get a job solely based on their race, there's more to an application than your GPA and there are plenty of extenuating circumstances that can contribute to low GPAs. In any event, if the kids really don't deserve to be there then they won't get return offers end of story.

Dec 28, 2019 - 10:37am

No, I think you cant read very well. I said never said most analysts get the job with a 3.2 and not knowing what EBITDA is. The point was that there are some people who aren't the strongest candidate on paper who get the job because they interview well / have a good attitude

The person in my start class with the lowest GPA (

Dec 27, 2019 - 4:11pm

I agree wholeheartedly that positions should be based on merit. The problem that people with the opposing view bring up is that minorities have not been able to access the same education as others. Also, their family and friends (who are more than likely to be minorities as well) cannot give them advice on a finance career path, making it even more difficult. Any thoughts on how to tackle this thought?

Dec 27, 2019 - 4:36pm

This would require making enormous social and political changes that no one would ever vote for. That's part of the problem.

I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
Dec 27, 2019 - 9:25pm

I kinda disagree. If you really do have valuable relationships that brings new deal flow into the shop you are working at I think one could make the argument that it is a form of skill. Everybody can make a comp sheet or create slides - not everyone can leverage their network to get signed engagement letters.

I don't know... Yeah. Almost definitely yes.

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Dec 27, 2019 - 9:28pm

This doesn't make much sense given that the URMs getting special treatment are literally going to the same universities as everyone else. It is a throwaway comment people make without evidence and doesn't really deserve a response. Is someone really trying to convince us that the black guys at Wharton don't have the access to education whites kids at random state schools do and need to get special treatment during recruiting to make things fair? Does that really pass the sniff test for you?

Dec 27, 2019 - 11:16pm

Thats a good point, I find it difficult to debate with people who don't grasp this idea, and those same individuals usually default to the "white hegemony is ruining life and career opportunities for minorities" argument. While I agree there should be some level of social reform, the arguments that some people make are just absurd.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Dec 27, 2019 - 6:27pm

I agree with MarthaStewart's post above.

If you've ever done any form of recruiting before from the other side (interviewing), you will see how hard it is to attract talented URMs/women. If you assume that the top 1% of females/URMs are just as good and qualified as the top 1% of over-represented demographics, then it's a disservice to your team to not try and recruit from that pool. It's far easier to get more diversity applicants when you already have diverse team members in junior and senior ranks, ideally actively participating in networking, interviewing, etc.

Plus, you're probably going to attract mor clients and get better PR for it.

Dec 27, 2019 - 8:57pm
Intern in IB-M&A:

I agree with MarthaStewart's post above.

If you've ever done any form of recruiting before from the other side (interviewing), you will see how hard it is to attract talented URMs/women. If you assume that the top 1% of females/URMs are just as good and qualified as the top 1% of over-represented demographics, then it's a disservice to your team to not try and recruit from that pool. It's far easier to get more diversity applicants when you already have diverse team members in junior and senior ranks, ideally actively participating in networking, interviewing, etc.

Plus, you're probably going to attract mor clients and get better PR for it.

Have you ever looked into SAT or GMAT data? Or looked into what people that get into these schools are majoring in? The "top 1%" of each demographic are not getting the same results. It is a lie that people are simply trying to get equally talented URMs. Companies and universities are holding them to far lower standards to increase the numbers.

Look at the Harvard lawsuit or look at medical school data and see for yourself if you think I'm exaggerating. If you've ever been on the other side of these things, you would see it. Even at a large agricultural trading house that has been trying to increase diversity (women+URM), the only way this was achieved was by simply having lower GPA/SAT thresholds, lower quantitative rigor during the interviews, little/no coding requirements, etc.

Dec 27, 2019 - 6:40pm

Couple things:

-You say you feel like you are the only black person in Chicago at times. Which means you have only seen half of Chicago. Go visit the Southside and think about how things got that way and whether that was fair. The technicalities of affirmative action can be problematic at times, but barring an economy with significantly increased income mobility and improved education, it's the best thing anyone has come up with to address the situation.

-How much marginal EBITDA do you think firms are losing because of affirmative action? Are they actually losing any? When you consider how random the application process is in competitive industries, the idea that the best people for the job are always the ones getting them is a big stretch to begin with. And if a guy doesn't know what EBITDA is when he starts his internship, so be it. It's not like it's something someone with a 3.2 can't learn.

Dec 27, 2019 - 9:05pm

How do you feel about the fact that inequality has gotten worse since Affirmative Action? The South Side of Chicago today is nothing like it was in the 50s, yet Affirmative Action was instituted in 1961, so what gives? Surely, if we are going to allow people to be discriminated against in hiring and getting into university, there should at least be some sort of positive result from it, but where is that?

Have you actually worked yet or gone to an elite school? Most of the URMs are not people who grew up on the South Side. Most are wealthy immigrants or from wealthy families and grew up in lifestyles very similar to that of their peers of other races, but they get a leg up in admissions purely due to race.

It is really stunning seeing so many people here defend race-based discrimination. Socioeconomic status? I could get behind and understand that, but how does race get in there? A wealthy Nigerian immigrant doesn't need a leg up, but they receive it through AA.

Dec 28, 2019 - 5:43am

I went to a good school and have been working for a long time. A lot of the URMs I met came from far more challenging backgrounds than your average student, felt impostor syndrome about their being there, and yet went on to seize opportunities they otherwise would not have had. The argument about the wealthy Nigerian immigrant is a fallacy. There are people from the Southside being helped (I know some), and that makes all the difference in the world to them.

How do I feel inequality has gotten worse since affirmative action? Like we are putting more strain on an already imperfect solution by reckless monetary policy, poor urban planning, regressive taxes, garbage public infrastructure, a horrible designed public school system with an idiotic funding system, corporate malfeasance...

Dec 27, 2019 - 9:47pm

If banking, consulting, or really any job was truly a meritocracy, your logic would be right. Everyone should be given an offer based on their talent or aptitude. However, that's not the case especially when the process is so competitive. Most of the kids in my summer class were extremely wealthy. There were 2 kids out of 30 that were middle class let alone anyone who was truly disadvantaged. I know kids at other banks who got an offer because their parent was a MD. Then even being at a target school, atleast mine, most of the kids who end up in prestigious business roles seem to come from a lot of wealth. It doesn't mean it's impossible for a minority or someone poorer to reach an elite level, but the odds are definitely stacked against you. It may not be the firms job to account for it, but they level the playing field and counteract the structural disadvantages that exist.

Most Helpful
Dec 27, 2019 - 10:07pm

I'm of two minds about diversity recruiting or affirmative action programs in general. On one hand, positive discrimination is still discrimination. I don't think it's especially controversial to believe that discrimination is wrongheaded, and that any form of discrimination creates animosity in some group. Black Americans aren't wrong when they complain about their treatment in the legal system. Statistics support the arguments that they're treated more harshly than their white counterparts. But the solution to that problem shouldn't be a reversal of that effect. If we were to impose a system for, say, the next 50 years where Caucasians were locked up in greater percentages and given longer prison terms to make up for the historical injustice of the prison system, that would be immoral and unjust. You can't fix historical discrimination with a new kind of discrimination because doing so creates angst and animus bred from the same feeling of injustice that you're trying to correct.

On the other hand, there is some value to diversity. It's not inherently true that diversity is always better than uniformity. It sometimes adds to a group to have someone that comes from a different background than everyone else, and it sometimes doesn't. I think that on balance, though, a congress of ideas tends to yield better outcomes than a dearth of differentiated thought. That said, that's not really what companies or universities are looking for. They don't really care about combining a bunch of people with sufficiently different backgrounds and educations to create a brain trust. Mostly, they just want the facade of diversity.

The truth is that class matters a great deal more in determining your upbringing than race. I'd rather be born rich and black in the US than poor and white anywhere in the world. Do poor black people in the US have it harder than poor white people? Sure, but only marginally. Being poor sucks regardless of race, and there are too few programs to help the socioeconomically disadvantaged of any creed. For me, diversity recruiting is a positive thing, then, as long as it helps poor minorities break into the business or into a top university, but all too often that isn't what happens. Replacing a silver spoon with a golden one for kids who might now be second or third generation recipients of affirmative action leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many. If your father is a wealthy Dartmouth alumnus and you're currently at Dartmouth with a 3.2 GPA in political science, you shouldn't be included in diversity recruiting just because you're black or Hispanic.

The problem, I guess, is the mismatch between what the programs are ostensibly meant to do and what they actually solve for. On their face, they're meant to provide a helping hand for disadvantaged communities to have a shot at breaking into high academia and the professional classes. Ideally, this would (over time) result in the creation of black and Hispanic business professionals of sufficient quantity to create a self-perpetuating, virtuous cycle that uplifts those communities. But what actually happens is this: as people get richer, they leave their former communities behind, so that virtuous cycle has taken far longer to materialize than anyone initially anticipated at the inception of affirmative action. This is at least partially complicated by the fact that diversity programs aren't generally screening for socioeconomic status. If a black kid with a 3.2 GPA from Dartmouth who was a first-generation college grad needed a shot, I'd gladly give it to him over a white legacy admit with the same credentials. That's what affirmative action was meant to be--a system where ties go to the guy who had it harder.

Unfortunately, that's not how the system is being applied, and as a result, some of the diversity hires are under-qualified. Sadly, they're all mixed in with the kids who are as good or better than the median hire. I don't know how you fix that since companies don't really have any incentive whatsoever to screen for truly deserving kids from tough backgrounds who need a break. If I were in HR at a major firm, I'd propose such a program dedicated exclusively to kids coming from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, but it turns out, no one gives a shit about my opinions on these sorts of things.

Jan 2, 2020 - 3:17pm

reminder that over a trillion dollars was spent on the war on poverty and nothing has come of it. stupid and poor people will remain stupid because suprise

they are genetically destined to stay stupid

this can also apply to race...

Dec 27, 2019 - 10:40pm

To act like banking and consulting require a level of competence most applicants meet is ridiculous. The best and brightest are capable of representing these firms at a much higher level than the objectively less competent diversity recruits. The answer is simple: as a society we must strive for equality of opportunity not equality of outcome.

"Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry."
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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Dec 27, 2019 - 11:41pm

"representing these firms" by working on bs powerpoints?

you sound full of yourself

Dec 28, 2019 - 9:25am

At MBB the junior most employees have significant client interaction. A single error from an IB analyst could cost the firm a deal. So the competence of first year hires absolutely matters.

"Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry."
Dec 28, 2019 - 12:12am

A couple of thoughts on your post addressed in the order you raised them.

1) Diversity recruiting in finance exists in many forms beyond simply racial diversity. Firms are recruiting women, LGBTQ, first-generation college students, veterans, non-finance students, etc. Even non-targets are considered diversity these days.. But your gripe seems to be purely with black candidates which is troublesome.

2) For candidates outside of Wharton, Stern, Ross, and other ugrad business schools (where you need to learn fundamental finance concepts to pass classes), there's little incentive to learn to actually learn anything material before the summer internship. The expectation is that candidates put in the effort to memorize the M&I, Vault, and other investment banking guides and regurgitate the answers to interviewers' satisfaction. If the expectation was anything other than being a performance monkey tap dancing for busy bankers, they wouldn't ask the same stupid questions like "how does an increase in $10 of depreciation flow through the three financial statements" and other basic questions from these guides nor would there be a week of training on valuation to cover all the basics before interns hit the desk. It's really easy to discern who is full of hot air and who isn't should interviewers care enough to ask more nuanced questions but, alas, you're taught everything when you start anyways so the interview is nothing more than assessing for likability and discipline to prepare. You having "read ALL of the finance books in Your school library" is serious overkill and grossly exaggerated. Note, it also doesn't make you any more qualified than others. And if you think all non-finance student have a sophisticated understanding of EBITDA beyond what they memorized from one of these guides to get the offer, you're a fool.

3) Anyone who got in the door, regardless of their GPA, sufficiently cleared the hurdle of likability + preparedness to pass the superday interviews. So, in short, they're "qualified" and "earned" their seat just like you. There's no such thing as a pity offer. If you got in, you checked the boxes for multiple (I repeat: multiple) interviewers.

3) If your junior year in college is the first time that you've felt people thought you were underqualified simply because you were a person of color, consider yourself lucky. There are plenty of people of color (both economically disadvantaged and not) that graduated at the top of their high school classes, had highly competitive standardized test scores, got into top targets, meet the GPA cut off and interview well to get offers and are still viewed as diversity or affirmative action admit. So if it's annoying to you as someone from a non-target, imagine how annoying it is for those candidates that perform on every benchmark. At the end of the day, people see your physical appearance before they see your credentials and that's just life. No one, black or white moves through the world with some proxy for intelligence (e.g. Yale, Goldman Sachs, 750 GMAT) stamped on their head so it's all in the way you carry yourself and what you communicate to people. You also said "it made me feel like my white coworkers assumed" a myriad of things - I'd highly encourage you to work through your imposter syndrome. You're in control of your feelings and this seems to be in your head rather than coworkers treating you differently because you're black. The reality is that people are always crafting narratives about others without any knowledge of your qualification.

4) It's absolutely the firm's responsibility to ensure their company has the right composition of employees - it's no one's responsibility but the firm's leadership and HR teams. I vemently push back on the notion that it's the responsibility of minorities to diversify the industry and there's tension between your view here and the very nature of your issue with diversity recruiting - isn't minorities helping other minorities in essence diversity recruiting on behalf of the firm (read: yes and that's kind of how it's done now)? You're simply helping another person get in based on their race, which you seem to have an issue with. Further, minorities have no more responsibility to help minorities than white people do. No one is responsible for another person's career and any professional in the industry helping others is simply doing it out of kindness and desire to give back. I'm not even going to address why it's in the firm's best interest to diversify as others have already delineated those elements for you.

5) As someone who has spent time across two JPM/MS/GS firms and done recruiting, there's a lot more sub-3.5 GPAs in revenue generating divisions (IBD, IMD, Securities) than these forums lead you to believe and I'd say there's a standard distribution across races. The idea that finance is a meritocracy is laughable. There are far more summer analysts (who also cleared the interview hurdle) whose hook was their parent is an MD/Partner (current or retired), their parent is in senior leadership at a client, they lived next door to head of recruiting in Greenwich or Stamford, their freshman year college roommate is a client, etc. etc. The channel though which a hire come is notated and often times disclosed to the campus recruiting team.

Final thought, these conversations about who deserves to be hired are tiresome simply because qualifications are so subjective - poll this website and you'd come up with very different opinions on what qualified is. In fact, finance is one of the only industries where the most obvious criteria for candidates (having studied finance) is not an early screen.. In other industries and job functions relevant academics is a filter - compsci majors are the majority hires for engineering roles, marketing and communications majors are hired for those function, etc. etc.

You seem to be annoyed because one kid who got in with a 3.2 at some random bank in Chicago - move on and worry about your own career. And it doesn't come as a shock at all that a black person is anti-diversity recruiting - lots of crab mentality in the black community and lots of I'm "better than other black people" mentality as well (both phenomenon are well documented).

Dec 28, 2019 - 9:32am

So you don't concede that URMs at banks have much lower on paper qualifications on average compared to whites and ORMs? This should be obvious. Banks should stop perpetuating an inferiority complex among URMs by evaluating all candidates, regardless of race, on a level playing field.

"Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry."
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Dec 28, 2019 - 10:46am

How exactly should this be obvious? As I stated above, qualifications are loose and until there is consensus on what we're measuring to derive qualification or lack thereof then this is purely subjective. If any of this was based on simply "paper qualifications," every other post on this website would not underscore the importance of networking to put yourself at an advantage relative to peers. The ability to suck up or talk shop doesn't make one more qualified. Being one of 200 students in the finance club at a target also doesn't make any one more qualified either. Where a candidate attends college doesn't make anyone more qualified. These are simply preferences.

If you actually take the time to look at a job posting for any of these banking and consulting roles, you'll notice the absence of any specific, measurable qualification beyond graduation year. The absence of measurable criteria is purposeful, it allows the firm to use discretion to recruit a workforce that works for them. This is no different than college admissions.

I find that anyone who calls out someone as being underqualified for a role to have a personal bias when 1) they have no insight into the combination of school, gpa, work experience, and other activities of another candidate and 2) none of these firms even list things as simple as GPA cutoff. From an objective measure, the only way you can say someone got in as an underqualified candidate with a 3.2 GPA is if the job posting said you were required to have a minimum 3.5 (which it doesn't).

Dec 28, 2019 - 8:25pm

How disillusioned are you ? Nontargets are NOT diversity . I say this going to one. The reason you see more nontargets is due to sites like WSO so kids work hard to break in. And why is LGBTQ diversity? Should I be punished because as a guy I plan one day to get married to a girl? And by the way what about disabled people? A cripple could easily do the analysts role well but they are put on par with normal people who would be able to have more diverse extracurricular due to walking. Don't even dare try to tell anyone on here how the diversity's programs are "more inclusiv than you think."

Dec 28, 2019 - 8:51pm

There are diversity programs for candidates with disabilities - see below for a few.

Goldman Sachs - Diverse Abilities Program
"This interactive event brings undergraduate freshmen and sophomores with disabilities together to learn more about our innovative and collaborative summer internship program."

Credit Suisse Sophomore Diversity Program
Eligibility: Diversity (Minorities, LGBT, Veterans, Disabilities)

Credit Suisse Steps to Success Diversity Event
"The Credit Suisse Steps to Success Event offers diverse candidates (for example, students who are female, Black, Hispanic, LGBT, veterans, disabled, or diverse in other ways) the opportunity to learn about the financial industry and specifically, what it's like to work at Credit Suisse."

JPMorgan We See Ability – Undergraduate
"You'll hear about the experiences of employees with disabilities who work at JPMorgan Chase, learn about internship opportunities available at the firm and interview for one of its internship programs for which you are eligible."

Barclays Pre-Internship Diversity Programs
"Barclays seeks to identify and attract high achieving under-represented students (women, Blacks, Hispanic/Latinos, LGBT, Native Americans, students with disabilities, and veterans)."

Wells Fargo Diversity Programs
"Students, inclusive of minorities, females, protected veterans, people with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), will be invited to participate."

Diversity programs cover all bases except for white, asian, and south asian men.

Dec 28, 2019 - 5:27am
  1. Without diversity push or affirmative push, you certainly will not be where you are today, especially as an African

  2. Why do you care what "white people" think? - if you truly believe "white people" have low expectations of you then use that to your advantage if you truly are a super star who knows all about unlevered cash flow and ebitda

  3. Ive been in this game for 10+ years (buyside / sellside) - you will soon learn that a 3.2 finance gpa is more than enough to learn all technicals you need to know. Relationships, negotiation and social skills are 50x more important than knowing ins and outs of EBITDA

Dec 28, 2019 - 8:36pm

Statement 1 is an insult to the OP. You basically just undermined his intelligence even after he told it to you. You don't think he'd have broken in? Tell me then about the women on wall street 30+ years ago who EARNED respect on the trading floor due to their skills.

Dec 28, 2019 - 8:16am
  • prep / knowing finance 101 is over-rated especially when diversity candidates are getting recruited in like freshman year spring. Get someone barely functional and in next 4 years (when they hit desk and 6 months in) they'll figure it out
  • most people who aren't in loop (whether diversity, poor, immigrant or from northeast) just don't have the banking know how and will always be under prepped compared to some guy w family in banking, is from NJ and went to Wharton and was in some frat w some finance guy. It's an inherent advantage that you just have to neutralize to some extent
  • if preparation, knowledge and getting by as a great analyst is all that mattered, there would be lot more Asians. There is definitely an inherent bias for it not to be the case
  • people hate on diversity initiatives but girls are better analyst than all of our fratty bros. I truly want better pitch books or model and don't plan to hang out w analysts on a Saturday where social fit matters. I mean analysts barely go to client things and all they have to is not puke at dinner table to not be a bad fit
  • 6
Dec 28, 2019 - 8:38am

Hi Guys! Thanks for all the responses. This post turned into exactly what i wanted it to be: a cordial and informative discussion. I made this post because it's a question that I've been battling in my head for a while now, and wanted to get some answers. Not to claim that I knew it all. I just want to address a few things:

  1. I hope that I'm not giving off the vibes of a crab in the barrel. I was hoping that you would all understand that I am very proud of my race and culture, and am the biggest proponent of Black and Minority excellence. I do have to swallow my pride though. I guess it's one of those things where you think "I wanted to win, but not like this?" But some of you truly have changed my mind and made me consider things that i honestly didn't.

  2. Apologies if this post somehow came off as anti-black. I was hoping that people picked up on the fact that I'm talking about all minorities. And this isn't a position against us, this is a stand for us, because I want us to be excellent and succeed.

  3. To those of you who pointed out that a lot of kids are only there because of their parents and relatives in finance. I completely agree with that, but some of you made me realize that it is a lot worse than i thought, and letting in some minorities with the same academic qualities as the under qualified people whose parents let them in, is probably actually a good thing.

  4. I completely understand that you really don't need to know that much to work in finance, and someone with a 2.8 GPA can learn everything once they're in. And Apologies if it sounded like i was tooting my own horn by giving my background (the unlevered fcf this was supposed to be funny lol). The reason I gave my background was to avoid the classic "You probably only got in because you're black" response from underachievers.

At the end of the day. I want to see more minorities in finance. I truly do want to see us succeed, and am not a crab in the barrel. I just think diversity recruiting is currently broken, but perhaps instead of pointing that out, i should be looking for ways to fix it!

PS: sorry for any typos, i just woke up!

Dec 29, 2019 - 4:14am

No one gives a shit about your biases - placement on deals is based on being a performer and a bit of politicking, two factors that that has nothing to do with your skin color.

Do you also believe that black person in NASA is an idiot? Or a black surgeon is an idiot? And yes, based on FACT, most Africans in IB do have strong GPAs so your prejudice is entirely an individual thing.

Btw I stand with my first point: I am not saying the OP isn't intelligent or qualified. Tell me how many black people, Africans inclusive, worked on Wall Street prior to 1969 / Civil rights act. Do you honestly believe that if there was no such thing as affirmative action or diversity was not a thing, on average, a well rounded African with high grades would be on the same level playing field as a non URM in recruiting?

Dec 28, 2019 - 11:20am
  1. You sufficiently navigated the process - that's why you got in. There's no "but not like this" about it.

  2. Wouldn't go as far to say people who got in because there parents are underqualified either - often times they check the boxes (school, decent gpa, work experience, etc.) as well. The connection enables them to edge out other comparable candidates. I think people also overlook that there's many URM minorities at targets with top gpas that also don't get in the door - it's not like every URM from Wharton is a GS or on the street.

The earlier you can accept that there's no objective requirements to get in the door and that everything is subjective, the better it will be for your own mental health. Connected kids don't anguish over whether or not they got the job " the right way" or if they're "qualified" - they realize that you're either playing the game or getting left behind. They got their seat and their only job is to then perform once in it (like everyone else). Would encourage you to internalize this mindset.

Dec 28, 2019 - 4:57pm

Affirmative action served a purpose in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement when significant LEGAL barriers prevented blacks from rising up. It was intended to be a temporary mechanism to help alleviate egregious racial inequalities, not a permanent one. Unfortunately, AA has devolved into the latter form as schools and companies are largely run by white liberals who are obsessed with identity politics and "racial and social justice."

Currently, AA is discriminatory, as it subjects applicants to varying standards based purely on their race. My dream is that the conservative SCOTUS will overturn AA in its entirety, but that remains yet to be seen. It also places blacks and Latinos in institutions that they are not qualified for, resulting in underperformance. The % of blacks graduating summa cum laude from Ivy League colleges, for example, is close to 0% while Asians are overrepresented.

In addition, if the ostensible goal of AA is to address past racial injustices such as slavery and segregation, why do black Africans and Latinos get AA? Absolutely ludicrous. And wealthy blacks get AA while working class whites and Asians don't. As our country continues to get more racially diverse and mixed (due to the rise in interracial marriage), we become ever more progressive on race, and it will continue to lose its staying power as a key driver of American life. Our policies need to adapt to the new reality, and race based AA needs to be replaced by one that is socio-economic focused.

Dec 28, 2019 - 5:39pm

Economically disadvantaged asian and south asian students care included in and do benefit from affirmative action. I know several that went to Ivy+ institutions on full rides and some that were also beneficiaries of The Gates Scholarship, Prep for Prep and other programs that are designed to equalize access to higher education for socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

Questbridge, the premier college pipeline program for first-generation and low-income college students, does a great job of driving parity for socioeconomically disadvantaged students irrespective of race. 50% of their finalists were white; 30% are asian.


Do people seriously think affirmative action is simply based on race?

Dec 28, 2019 - 6:12pm

This is a lie. Affirmative action is not socioeconomic based and Ivies give have provided need-based aid for decades. You are just making up shit now. Posting red herrings about programs to help afford college have nothing to do with actual admission to those schools or the diversity programs at major banks
and consulting firms.

Are you aware that California eliminated AA and instituted a policy based purely on socioeconomic status and the white and Asian populations increased to even greater over representation.

How in the world is it possible for you to claim that Harvard is giving preferential treatment to working class whites and Asians when the Harvard lawsuit showed that an elimination of legacy and race-based discrimination increased the working class whites and Asian populations?

Dec 28, 2019 - 5:18pm

I find it fascinating (and sad) that there is so much vitriol against URMs, AA etc when it comes to banking and college admissions.

But there is little mention (aside from some of us older ones here) or vitriol for legacy/connected candidates who "don't make the grade" (ie. don't work as hard/prep etc) and typically get into colleges or banking jobs. This is the counterpoint to the Harvard lawsuit. That plenty of legacies or athletes (not football but sports like, I dunno, crew, sailing etc) who don't have the numbers but get in anyway and also "take spots" away from "more qualified kids". I mean they end up being our bosses anyway, so I guess we should accept that as well and just pick on URMs?

Or we can admit that life is life and that it's not fair and do our best to help out others.

I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
  • 6
Dec 28, 2019 - 5:35pm

Some people just cant fathom why a black person i.e. inferior beings should get a spot before them not realizing that if jobs and admission decisions were entirely meritocratic or academic as alluded to above, corporate America and ivy's will be 99% filled with Asians.

You rarely hear of successful mid or senior level (white) professionals bitch about AA or diversity

Dec 28, 2019 - 6:00pm

99% Asian? Did you even look at the Harvard lawsuit? If you eliminated all legacy admissions you would see basically no change in the white population at Harvard except for slightly more middle class whites. You mostly just see far fewer URMs and they are replaced by Asians and whites. That's also what happened in California at Berkeley and UCLA when Affirmative Action was eliminated. Lots of working class whites and Asians gained acceptance and the Hispanic and black populations at each school plunged.

Dec 28, 2019 - 6:06pm

It is weird you are ascribing vitriol when none is shown in this thread. Why do you feel the need to make personal attacks when people disagree with you on policy? Are you not able to argue based on reason and instead need to claim others are racist for having a different opinion?

What makes you think people are okay with legacy admissions? You seem to think you have a gotcha moment, but most of us are against both. Of course, when you actually look at the data (see Harvard case), most legacies actually had higher SAT/GPA than non-legacies. URMs had an easier time of being accepted than even legacies with top grades.

Most of us just want fairness. I think most are fine with socioeconomic status being considered, but that isn't what is being done. It is purely a race based policy.

Dec 28, 2019 - 7:35pm

Would you truly be okay with Socioeconomic status being largely considered if it meant that someone with worse stats than you gets that job or admission.

For your sanity or peace of mind, you should think from the institutions perspective where value trumps academic stats. In an investment bank, there is a lot more value having a diverse group (race, ethnicity, whatever the case) versus say, a quant hedge fund, where it's purely about numbers and intellectual prowess. In the latter, AA or diversity is not prioritized in recruiting.

The legacy person adds value to a bank through relationships, the black kid adds value to the bank where specific large clients want to see minorities - what value does the 20th 3.9 GPA cookie cutter white male bring to the table - yes he is likely to be technically sound but really and truly how much weight does that incremental technicality bring to the table.

Dec 28, 2019 - 9:37pm

I'm not going to add anything of substance to the argument, since I think this thread has brought light to many diverging perspectives on diversity recruiting that I don't have enough industry knowledge to contribute to.
I will say that this post is probably the single best thread I have come across on this forum in that it explores arguments about a fundamental issue that is seen not only in investment banking but in every industry across the board. I appreciate being able to read about the prevalence of discrimination through an unbiased source rather than an article online from a biased author or organization. This is the beauty of WSO. This is an important conversation to be had. Good job OP.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Dec 29, 2019 - 2:28pm

lmao I said don't @ me. Get a life and a career and stop obsessing over the qualifications of our colored brethrens.

Dec 30, 2019 - 7:16am

To those bemoaning the rise of diversity in IB recruiting, be happy that there isn't any when it comes to PE recruiting.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
Dec 30, 2019 - 5:33pm

Sorry to all the grinders out there but the US isn't a meritocracy, only partly so. For every "under qualified" diversity hire (subjective) there is a hire based on family connections that equally didn't "deserve" the job - but no one is whining about those. Similar to focusing on diversity college applications vs. legacy admits this entire thread is a red herring.

Frankly, if you were literally the last man out because of a diversity hire you probably didn't even deserve the job anyway. Focus on what you can control and not what you can't.

Dec 30, 2019 - 9:22pm

Well, if you actually looked at the Harvard data, that isn't true at all. If you eliminated legacy preferences, it actually disproportionately hurt URMs and fewer people in total were impacted than expected because, unsurprisingly, legacies had better scores and grades on average than the rest of the applicant pool.

Dec 30, 2019 - 11:21pm

I know you're pretty triggered by all these posts...but I was not arguing for or against anything merely pointing out that its funny that no one way gets all bent out of shape and has monster threads about job hooks ups, which is definitely a thing. People need to focus on what they can control and not worry about the noise. Similar to losing the game at the last minute by a questionable call by the ref...if you played the game that close you didn't deserve to win.

In regards of your specific data reference, the actual research showed that 75% of the 43% of legacy/athlete bucket at Harvard wouldn't have been admitted. Now who that benefits is a totally separate issue and not one that I was opining to in either direction.

Dec 30, 2019 - 9:53pm

One thing I've noticed that a lot of commenters are uncomfortable saying that a URM is less capable in a position they've obtained, even when the commenter knows that URM was given favorable treatment in competing for the position.

For example there's a few comments above where some folks say it would be be racist to be less comfortable with a URM doctor even though you know that doctor's race was given favorable treatment.

It's a matter of simple logic that if you favor any group for a characteristic (like race) that doesn't speak to their abilities, that group's admits will be weaker on average.

If you knew a med school gave preferential treatment to left-handed people such that 50% of the school must be left-handed, you'd be a fool to think a left-handed doc from that school is likely to be as qualified as a righty from that school. The school is dramatically lowering the bar for lefties, who only make up 10% of the population.

Is it possible a particular lefty doc is as good or better than a righty? Sure. But the odds are way against that. And thus if you saw a doc for something important, and noticed he was a left-handed graduate of that school, it would be plenty logical to be concerned about the high likelihood that this doctor isn't up to par.

My question is, do you guys really not get this, or are you just scared of looking like a racist? Because it wouldn't be racist in the slightest to think that someone given special treatment is less capable.

  • Research Associate in Other
Dec 30, 2019 - 11:50pm

It does feel a little racist to say I'm going to assume a diverse candidate from a target must be less capable or qualified simply based on their race. You can control for diversity without diluting the quality of a candidate. Many people miss this.

Dec 31, 2019 - 12:33am

Assuming a particular person must be less capable wouldn't be correct.

But if a group has been given preferential treatment then that says something about the odds.

If you met someone from a very selective school who's family name was on a building at the school, you know the odds are good that the individual wasn't fully up to par. Sure, he might just so happen to be as qualified as his classmates. But if 10% get into the school and you know this guy was getting in no matter what because of his family, I think you have to confront the reality that there's a 90% chance he wasn't getting in without his connections and that speaks to his caliber.

Dec 31, 2019 - 12:36am
Research Associate in Other:

It does feel a little racist to say I'm going to assume a diverse candidate from a target must be less capable or qualified simply based on their race. You can control for diversity without diluting the quality of a candidate. Many people miss this.

How can you possibly "control for diversity" without diluting quality? I posted the GMAT data before. There are literally more black students at HBS and GSB than there are black students that scored over a 700 on the GMAT and both of those schools still get flack for a lack of diversity. When you say that you can control for diversity, how do you do that in this scenario? Can you explain to me how it is possible that the academic quality of students is unaffected in this scenario?

Jan 1, 2020 - 6:32am

I agree with you that firms shouldn't intentionally skew the racial demographics. But from what I see in applications is that they say the racial/gender information provided is purely statistical and has no impact on the application. So if they do take into account those factors when it comes to hiring decision, wouldn't these firms be lying?

Jan 1, 2020 - 12:43pm

Lol yes, they lie. They have special recruiting programs for URMs and women, so many are looked at before any other candidates have a shot and, in most instances, firms already have slots allotted for women and minorities before recruiting starts.

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