Citi Diversity, Equity and Inclusion(DEI) head Erika Irish Brown is working to ensure the multinational bank hits its goal to increase its Black and female leadership.
In 2018, Citi set goals to increase its female leadership in the company to 40% and its Black representation from 6% to 8% by the end of 2021. While Citi has not made its current figures public, Brown says she does expect Citi to hit those diversity goals on time.
“I’ve always tried to connect the dots between racial equity, commercial, and human capital initiatives that drive the business case for diversity,” she told Business Insider.
The financial industry is one that lacks both racial and gender diversity. At the entry level of U.S. financial services firms racial representation is about 40%. However, in leadership and management roles, that percentage falls off a cliff.
The worst part about the financial industry’s inability to adapt is that it’s costing firms money.
Last May, McKinsey & Co. published a report showing financial firms that had more gender diversity on their executive teams were 25% more likely to have high profitability than companies with low gender diversity. A separate McKinsey report from 2015 shows firms with more racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have higher financial returns.
Brown says to change the status quo, leaders and firms need to take every opportunity to diversify their workforce.
“We have very specific development and retention programs for mid-level Black employees as well as women,” Brown said. These include active efforts to audit and close pay-equity gaps; and employee resources groups, such as Citi Women, a group for women and female-identifying employees. “We’re going to continue to develop those.”
Citi is investing more money and resources for its Owning My Success program, where senior Black executives mentor mid-level Black colleagues. The financial firm has also invested in HBCU programs and schools.