How Citi is Paving the Way for HBCU Grads and Black Professionals in Finance was originally published on WayUp.
Ever since Maggie Lena Walker established and presided over the first bank to service Black organizations, Black Americans have been shaping the history of finance. 100 years later, people of color (POC) are still making contributions that leave everlasting impacts on the industry.
Although a lot of progress has been made for POC in the banking and finance space, they are still at a disadvantage. The facts of the matter are that POC are disproportionately underrepresented in finance and face a harder time breaking into the industry than others.
As a company that emphasizes the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Citi identifies with these issues wholeheartedly. Citi also knows that if these trends continue, an entire legacy of future Maggie Walkers might cease to exist. Even worse, the contributions and ideas that these POC would have contributed to the finance world would never see the light of day. This lack of input and improvement would slow down the finance world as we know it.
Citi has made sure to create a space where POC not only feel welcome but motivated to succeed as well, creating a virtuous cycle for individuals, Citi as an organization and the financial services industry more broadly. In order to create this space, Citi has rolled out a series of initiatives that are paving the way for POC in finance. The first of which has to do with their recruiting strategy.
HBCU Recruiting and Presence
To employ the brightest minds, first, you have to find them. That’s why Citi decided to set up an ambitious recruiting strategy at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). And we’re not just talking about free koozies and stickers. Citi is showing up on campuses, sometimes even with school alumni, to share background on their diversity and inclusion efforts, educate students about opportunities and show they are a company that values the success of their diverse employees.
Here is what one Global Banking Analyst had to say about the impression Citi left when they visited Howard University during her time as an undergraduate.
By continuing to establish meaningful relationships with students at HBCUs, Citi is building a workforce that includes incredibly talented individuals from diverse backgrounds.
HBCU Alumni Network
By creating groups and communities that allow people from similar backgrounds to come together and share thoughts, companies can create new environments to help their employees thrive. That’s why Citi established the HBCU Alumni Network. As you might be able to infer, the HBCU Alumni Network is a group at Citi that allows alumni from different HBCUs to connect, network, and help one another grow. Which, for a lot of people, helped them succeed and learn in a lot of ways.
My involvement with the HBCU Alumni Network has taught me the importance of being proactive when you’re on a team. I was tasked to work alongside another team member to initiate contact with 19 schools. I hesitated on whether I should wait for him to reach out first since he has been employed at Citi longer than me, but I ended up having the courage to set up the first meeting. He expressed how impressed he was that I took charge right away and set up a strong foundation for the work we’ll be completing together. That experience taught me to never doubt myself or my capabilities, even if I may be the youngest on the team, and if there is an opportunity to showcase your skills or leadership, you always jump at it!
Global Consumer Banking Analyst
Through her involvement with the HBCU Alumni Network, she not only gained more experience and confidence in herself, but she also made a good impression on her colleague. All around wins.
Black Heritage Network
Like the HBCU Alumni Network, there is the Black Heritage Inclusion Network at Citi. Within this group, Black professionals can come together, share their thoughts, seek out mentors, and essentially just share space with people who look like them.
After you graduate, the number of groups and organizations you can join to socialize, grow yourself, and feel welcome gets cut in half. When these groups are no longer available, especially in the corporate world, some individuals face issues that diminish their productivity and most importantly, their self-worth. That’s why establishing inclusion networks is so advantageous and why Citi chose to do it themselves.
POC in Leadership Positions
One very direct way to help POC succeed in financial services is to connect and grow them in leadership and management positions. By doing so, you not only diversify the leadership on your team, but you also create mentors, role models, and individuals who people from similar backgrounds can identify with. As a result, students and job-seeking individuals become more inclined to apply for positions at the company.
As he said, it’s comforting to grow and be trained by people who are like you. When you can relate to these people, it makes the relationship better on all ends.
One Corporate Banking Analyst had a similar experience with her mentor during her time at Howard.
When I was a Freshman at Howard, my mentor, who was a Senior, had a full-time offer in Investment Banking at Citi and was the Citi Campus Ambassador. She recommended me for the Freshman Discovery Program, and I ended up getting in. At the time I was not super familiar with Citi or Wall Street as a whole, so I did not really know what to expect. However, when I arrived, I was completely enamored with the experience and completely threw myself into it. At the end of the program, I was sad to leave and knew this is where I belonged.
Corporate Banking Analyst
If it weren’t for Citi putting her mentor into that Campus Ambassador position, it’s possible that she may have never ended up at Citi. By creating this position and ones like it, Citi now has talent pipelines that will draw in some of the brightest minds in finance for years to come. Pipelines that might just end up finding you one day.
What’s Next for Citi?
While these initiatives may seem bold, Citi has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. Much like Citi’s Action for Racial Equity, a $1 billion+ commitment to help close the racial wealth gap and increase economic mobility in the United States, the ideas Citi is putting forth will have a substantial impact on the industry and the world for years to come.
If this is an endeavor that you would like to be a part of and contribute to, check out the positions Citi is currently hiring for. Who knows, in just a few years it could be you leading the change.