Let’s be honest—the financial services industry is not diverse.
All of the ‘isms are still prevalent in the sector: racism, sexism, ageism among others, so it’s worth applauding when Black women rise up the ranks of leadership. In fact, of the financial industry’s C-suite positions only 4% of those seats are filled by Black women. Outside of underrepresentation in leadership, there is a larger conversation to be had around the need for pay parity and equity in the Black community compared to other groups.
In 2020, The Washington Post reported the wealth gap between Black and white Americans in this country is just as large as it was in 1968. This is particularly concerning since it was found that Black are the sole breadwinners in most US households, which means they are working harder, yet still being left behind. Amid the expanding wealth inequality in the U.S., numerous Black women around the country are making major strides toward a more financially literate future.
Despite the hurdles, there are phenomenal Black female leaders in the financial sector, breaking down barriers, moving mountains, and promoting financial equity along the way.
Beginning her career as an intern with Ariel Investments, a leading mutual fund, and investment management firm in Chicago, today, she’s president and co-CEO.
“I’m the youngest of six kids born to a single mom. At times she made really bad financial decisions and we would often get evicted, or our phone would get disconnected, or our lights would be turned off,” she said in an interview. “All of it weighed on me tremendously. It also fueled this need to understand money. I thought: “If I can understand it, I can make good decisions. If I make good decisions, I’ll be secure and therefore free.”
To date, Hobson is one of the most prolific leaders in finance, holding chair positions with Starbucks and formerly with DreamWorks.
A graduate of Duke and Wharton, Valerie Moseley then took on Wall Street with positions at top firms that included senior vice president, partner, and portfolio manager for Wellington Management Company, a global investment firm. Now, she’s running her own, Valmo Ventures “to advise and invest in companies that add value both to investors and society.”
A 30-year veteran in the financial industry, Carla Harris has charted an impressive career that includes presently holding positions such as vice-chairman, managing director, and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley. More impressively, President Obama named her the chairperson of the National Women’s Business Council in 2013.
In her early professional life, Suzanne Shank was an engineer–but later she pivoted and earned an MBA from Wharton, where she leaned into her passion for finance. Now, she is the president of Siebert Williams Shank & Co , one of the US’s leading Black-owned financial firms.
Thasunda Brown Duckett
Formerly the CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, Thasunda Brown Duckett currently serves as CEO and president of TIAA, but she wasn’t always a leader in finance.
“When you know what it’s like to look in the refrigerator and just see baking soda, or know what it’s like to have your lights turned off, personal finance is important,” Thasunda Brown Duckett said in a Wall Street Journal Interview, where she spoke about the financial hardship her family went through in her childhood. It’s because of those tough times that she committed to promoting the importance of financial literacy in the Black community.