Women and Wall Street

imgresThere was an article this Sunday in the NYTimes about women and Wall Street titled A Woman Drank My Breast Milk and Other Wall Street Tales.  The author, Maureen Sherry, describes how when she was 7 months pregnant interviewed a young woman for a job at Bear Sterns.  The young woman wanted to know the reality of the environment of the company.  Sherry laughed it off about how women are treated but the reality of it was disturbing.

Most women don’t stay on Wall Street for long periods of time if any at all.  They are treated like shit.  When they get pregnant instead of their peers or superiors being happy for them they tend to increase their hours and put more demands on their time.  It as if they are saying to mothers let’s see if you can take it.  There have been countless law suits on harassment that are kept behind closed doors settling for big sums of cash.

I have met with a few women who were working on Wall Street who were making big bucks but so incredibly unhappy and at a loss on how to move forward or deal.

Years ago I was interviewed by Janet Hanson in front of 100 ladies at a luncheon.  I call these women “banker ladies”.  My career did not cross the path of most of them until recently as they have started to leave and figure out what’s next.

Janet and I talked about what I was doing in the investing world.  At one point we opened the floor to questions.  I will never forget this.  A woman stood up and started to harass me.  She said that she was at a big investment bank and in order for her to move up the ladder she literally had to leave the firm and move to the Middle East and work for the Saudis helping manage assets for them.  After I let her vent I said to her that I have zero idea what it was like for her at the bank.  It am not part of that world.  What I do know is that only one person gets to be the Chairman, only one person gets to be the President so there are probably more than a handful of men who vied for those jobs and did not get them either.  Essentially at one point the ladder to climb up becomes rungless.

I looked around the room and said I bet that of the 100 women here many of you have had better returns than your male counterparts.  You are never going to change these environments from within (although they are desperately trying to fix them now) so why don’t you start your own investment bank.  Change happens from outside not inside.

Afterwards a bunch of women came up to me to talk about that.  I happen to know one that took it to heart and started her own investment firm.  It is no different from the start-up world.  If you don’t like what you see, then forge a different path and build it yourself.

The article is worth reading.  The system is broken in the banking world.  It is 2016 and it is time to see women being treated with respect and as equals.