Q&A: Patricia David On Diversity At Citigroup's Investment Bank

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When did Citigroup decide to make a concerted effort to improve the diversity of its staff on the investment banking side of the business?

Patricia David: Citigroup has had a focus on diversity and a diversity officer structure in place for many years. The Corporate and Investment Banking division has had a dedicated diversity office since 1998, and I've been in the job since 2001. Our office is structured around diversity committees in many of our core businesses, and run by senior people in these businesses. Approximately 600 employees are represented on diversity committees within the Corporate and Investment Banking division.

How would you outline your division's strategy in diversity?

David: There are four components to our diversity strategy - management accountability, attracting talent, workforce development and work environment. One of the most important things to consider is the environment or the culture. When we talk about diversity, what we want is an environment where all employees feel like they are included and can achieve to their greatest potential, regardless of gender or ethnicity or where they went to school.

How about your workforce-development strategy?

David: One of the things that we did notice was that women and people of color were not being promoted as fast as others. For some, it might have been that they didn't have the requisite ability to network - the soft or the non-technical skills needed in this business. We understood the need for a mentor or a key sponsor. For other employees, there was a need for increased confidence, a greater sense of independence, and a need for improvement on their global perspective. We've put specific programs in place for skills training and on things such as political savvy, communicating for impact, financial philosophy, budget preparedness and presentation skills.

Why aren't more women and minorities considering a career in the investment banking field?

David: We need to understand that many people feel uncomfortable, especially when they look around and don't see themselves represented in the industry. I am an African-American female, and when I went to college, it certainly wasn't my intention to go to Wall Street. My dad was a blue-collar worker, and the rest was luck. I was happy to get a job out of college. Many successful women and minorities are choosing to open up their own businesses instead, since they might view this as a difficult industry to be in. We also find ourselves competing for top talent with other industries outside of investment banking.

What are some of the innovative things currently happening in your division's diversity efforts?

David: We've realized that we have to broaden our net to get talent. If we are only going to the Ivy League, we might be missing others who could be great employees, but who might have a little more nontraditional background. We've identified this issue, and now we're working to come up with ideas to recruit from nontraditional banking and investment routes.

How do you respond to those in the industry who don't see diversity as a top priority?

David: At Citigroup, the ultimate goal is to have more women and minorities in leadership positions and to sustain that process to the point where my department doesn't need to exist. Our marketplace is rapidly changing, and the workforce is becoming much more diverse. We have to recognize the customer base is changing as well, and we need to have people to create products in our team with a specific experience. Additionally, people want to see that our employees look like them, and we need to recognize that.

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