As a Black child who grew up on the West Side of Chicago, working downtown—or in the financial services industry—was not on the top 10 list of probable careers. For me, however, it became a reality I’ve cherished every day for the past 28 years.
So how did I, a curious high school intern with no experience, go on to become the Head of Private Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley, one of the world’s leading banks? Put simply—opportunity, inclusion, and hard work.
While I looked nothing like the bond traders or sales team on the trading floor at the time, I always felt like I was part of a team of people who all strived for the same goals. This bedrock belief and the corroborating actions of members of the team provided the confidence-boost that propelled me to where I am today.
While my story may sound unique, at Morgan Stanley, it’s not—and that’s by design. There are many colleagues who share a similar narrative of not coming from privilege, of realizing their potential and serving in roles of great influence across the business.
That’s because cultivating an environment that fosters diversity is and has long been a top priority. It is the key to our firm’s longevity and success. We are a company that understands that our most treasured capital is not financial, but human. It is a culture that looks for, recognizes, and develops talent.
And we do this by championing inclusion. Why? Because it deepens our perspective. We understand that our strengths lie in what makes us different. Inclusion broadens the impact that we can make, and it makes us relatable to more people.
Our diversity is what makes the difference.
Earlier this year, our Chairman and CEO James Gorman championed the launch of our Institute of Inclusion. The Institute is responsible for creating policy, establishing metrics, coordinating our internal and external voice, and overseeing the mentoring, development, and promotion of our diverse employees.
The Institute of Inclusion was initially funded with $25 million to ensure it achieves its mission. It will help us quantify our progress in recruiting talent, how we are engaged with our communities, and help us establish commitments that ingrain Morgan Stanley with communities of color.
We’re not in this alone; we understand that we win in life with the help of others. The Institute, coupled with strategic partnerships with organizations like the National Black MBA Association, National Association of Securities Professionals, Association of African American Financial Advisors, the Executive Leadership Council, and more, allows us to promote the tapestry of cultures, races, and customs that make life at Morgan Stanley so rich.
Additionally, we have committed $12 million to fund our Historically Black Colleges and Universities Scholars program, which provides 60 students with full scholarships across three universities.
Our comprehensive approach to inclusion and diversity is what will allow us to incubate, nurture and advance the next generation of Black excellence in the industry—a responsibility I personally take great pride in and fully embrace.
With each day that passes, I fully recognize that I am standing on the shoulders of successful Black executives, many of whom I learned about in BLACK ENTERPRISE, a mainstay in our living room growing up. I would not be where I am today without their support and I’m committed to creating the same opportunities for others.
If we all take a similar stance on inclusion, we all win.
Because at the end of the day, what bonds us and what should always remain as our guiding principle, is not our color, but our humanity.