The year 2020 has been a highly unusual and disruptive year — from the COVID-19 pandemic to natural disasters — our daily lives have changed dramatically. Most notable is the social awakening that has taken place this year following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and several other African-Americans. These deaths and the civil unrest and protests that have followed in streets and neighborhoods across America have sparked national conversations around systemic racism in a profound way that we have seen only a few times in our nation’s history.
And systemic racism appears not only in the contexts highlighted by these tragic deaths and nationwide protests. Systemic racism also unfortunately haunts the financial services industry and legal profession. Banks and, more generally, financial institutions struggle with diversity. While banks are generally integrated in entry-level positions, as management responsibility increases, diversity decreases. For example, a recent study found that executive level positions consisted of 29 percent women and 71 percent men. But even starker: whites made up 81 percent of the executive suite.
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