Although more people of color than ever are graduating with degrees in accounting and finance, equal opportunity in the banking industry is far from a dream realized, a new report by the NAACP (pdf) has found.
The report, which was released on Tuesday, shows that the nation’s five largest banks (Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and US Bank) struggle with diversity. Top positions in management are still dominated by white employees, despite the fact that banks have programs aimed at inclusion and more people of color are finding their way into the field.
"Equal opportunity for people of color in the United States remains an unrealized goal," stated Interim NAACP President and CEO Lorraine Miller in the press release. "The banking industry will add nearly 1 million jobs with a living wage and wealth-generating opportunities over the next decade and more people of color are graduating with degrees in accounting, finance, IT, MBAs than ever before. We look forward to working with leading banks in strengthening their diversity and inclusion efforts and connecting more members of our communities to these opportunities."
According to the press release 1.6 percent of the banks' supplier budgets is the most spent on African-American suppliers, and overall amount spent on firms owned by people of color is a mere 5.3 percent.
The banks were graded on three criteria: 1. workforce and job advancement; 2. contracting and procurement; and 3. small-dollar products. The highest grade, held by Bank of America and Citibank, was a C+.
The report breaks at a time when the entertainment industry is coming to grips with its lack of diversity. Since the beginning of the year, the popular late-night sketch show Saturday Night Live has hired three black women, including two staff writers and a new cast member, after they faced harsh criticism.
The entertainment and banking industries are both in need of makeovers. The NAACP is encouraging the five banks surveyed and other leading banks to participate in an Opportunity and Diversity Summit later in the year to discuss how to remedy these issues.
There is also a federal rule expected to come into play, which will require the banks to set "metrics" and "percentages" for diversifying their workplace and their suppliers.
"Both this report card and the federal rule are major steps in encouraging the banking industry to strengthen job creation and wealth building opportunities for minorities," said Leonard James, NAACP board member and Economic Development chair.