Wall Street Moving Slowly on Road to Recruit From Black Colleges

Wall Street’s vow last year to fight racism kicked off a parade of pledges, few more specific than plans to support historically Black colleges and universities. Kellye Blackburn, the director of career services at Louisiana’s Grambling State University, said her phone was ringing off the hook after George Floyd’s murder.

It’s quieter now.

The industry will tell you it’s put up billions of dollars to support racial equity -- and it has. But inside its offices, progress is moving slowly for students from Black schools, according to people familiar with the data. Across these giant institutions, hopes for revolutionary change are bumping up against entrenched hiring traditions.

While Goldman Sachs Group Inc. nearly doubled the number of HBCU interns to 37, grads landed only three more full-time jobs than last year. Inside JPMorgan Chase & Co., HBCU hiring fell, though the bank’s numbers for Black graduates rose across all campuses. Wells Fargo & Co., which employs hundreds of thousands, more than doubled its number of full-time and intern recruits to 72 as of May.

Blackburn can’t shake the feeling that “a lot of companies were contacting us in order to fulfill their corporate social responsibility efforts,” and would like to see banks build up their presence on additional campuses, particularly the smaller ones. For students with their sights set on finance, getting a foot in the door is just the beginning. They’re hungry to change the system from the inside, driven to build Black wealth, fueled by the burst of interest and hoping it will last, according to 16 current and former students at Spelman, Morehouse, and some of the other 100 or so schools dedicated to Black education.