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Thought Leadership

How Exposure Can Improve the Wall Street Pipeline

February 3, 2022

Gigs Taylor-Stephenson

Educators have a tremendous opportunity to help diversify a homogeneous industry

My parents were entrepreneurs. Of course, as a child I was too young to understand what that meant. But I grew up watching my dad go out to work and my mom running the “back office,” and at twelve I typed my first invoice. Getting exposure at a very young age to running a business, and the benefits of hard work has shaped me into the person I am today.

Exposure is critical to landing jobs. In many cases, it can be just as important as formal training – and one industry sector where this is particularly pronounced is on Wall Street. You can study markets and financial instruments, but without meaningful exposure — the personal experiences that build familiarity, confidence and a social network — you face a steep disadvantage trying to land a job in the financial service industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021 only 7.2% of those employed in securities, commodities, funds, trusts and other financial investments were Black and 7.9% were Hispanic/Latino.

For Wall Street Bound, a nonprofit partner that assists underrepresented youth with building careers in finance, exposure is the guiding concept. It’s worth noting that the idea gains complexity in the context of an entire industry’s talent pipeline. In other words – it’s not enough to send Black and Brown students from low-income communities on a field trip to the New York Stock Exchange. To make a meaningful difference, the exposure needs to be substantive and multi-layered.

Troy Prince, Wall Street Bound’s founder, understands this dynamic implicitly. Growing up in the South Bronx, he’s seen firsthand the tremendous amount of raw talent in his neighborhood and others like it. Like me, as a former Wall Street professional, he has frequently found himself to be the only Black person in the room. And he’s indignant, as we all should be, that so many brilliant people are excluded from the professional pipeline for financial services. His experiences also give him a clear-eyed view of the challenges and obstacles barring the way to a more inclusive Wall Street – which led to the founding of Wall Street Bound.

Wall Street Bound seeks to provide students with an education in finance that prioritizes practical experience that is quantifiable and shines on a resume. Its mission is to recruit and train 10,000 young, diverse dreamers for careers on Wall Street by 2030.

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