According to Dreizler, the Financial
Industry Regulatory Authority “should
consider updating it’s regulations around
disclosure of harassment.” Today, arbitra-
tion that involves harassment cases are
not disclosed on FINRA’s BrokerCheck
website, “so a broker who has been fired
or ‘allowed to resign’ from one firm, can go
on to the next firm and do the same thing
again with no warning to the new firm.”
Of these claims, 17 women won an
award, and 60 were denied or dismissed.
In the remaining cases, many arbitrators
denied gender-related claims but grant-
ed awards on unrelated claims or were
unclear about which exact claims were
being addressed, the news analysis found.
(For the 14 cases of sexual harassment cases involving men, eight lost,
four won, one received an award on an
unrelated claim and one was expunged.)
As one survey respondent summed
up possible remedies for bad behavior in
general, including regulatory measures
with different layers of severity: “We
have to bring it to light more often and
not sweep it under the rug. Sadly, Ken
Fisher isn’t unique. He’s just the one who
To read Sonya Dreizler’s “Do Better” blog series, go to: www.solutionswithsonya.com/do-better-series
Ellevest CEO and Wall Street veteran Sallie Krawcheck is speaking out about what
can be done for the financial services business to improve not only its “conference
culture” but also its hiring and promotion of women. The co-founder of the digital-
advice platform for women posted her remarks in the wake of Fisher Investments
Chairman Ken Fisher’s recent lewd comments at an industry event.
While some news reports have emphasized “conference culture,” the issue at stake
is “bigger than that,” explained the former head of wealth management at Bank of
America and Citigroup. “It’s about women feeling — and being — welcome not just
at financial services conferences, but in the financial-services industry itself.”
Krawcheck said in her blog post that the financial-services industry “has been
almost completely silent during the #Me Too crisis.” She continued: “But it’s even big-
ger than that. Because who thinks the Ken Fishers of the world suddenly stop disre-
specting women when they start making their investment and business decisions?”
Her answer: “The ripple effect of executives’ decisions can be enormous, because
the financial services industry serves as the lifeblood of our economy.” The financial
services business allocates capital in ways that result in some entities with wins
and others with losses — and “women have, on average, [have] lost,” according to
Krawcheck, who points to the higher rates they pay for mortgage loans, for instance.
With the percentage of female advisors “stuck” at about 15% and an array of
related issues, she asks: “Who is tired of all of this state of affairs? We all should be.”
The path forward can include, for instance, divesting funds from firms “that do not
support women and put it in those that do,” she said — adding that it’s crucial to ask
these four questions:
1. Does the firm require employees to agree to mandatory arbitration for sexual
harassment claims or can they sue? Forcing women into arbitration is “why
sexual harassment in the industry continues,” she says.
2. Does the firm “go beyond platitudes” and have an equal number of women
and men in senior leadership and profit-and-loss roles? “Anything below 50%
women is too low,” she said.
3. What’s the firm’s gender and ethnic pay gap? “Anything less than full equality
here is unacceptable, because it is straightforward to measure and to fix,” the
Ellevest leader said.
4. Does the firm invest with “an eye to gender”? If not, “then industry statistics
show that they overwhelmingly invest in men,” according to Krawcheck.
More and more people don’t want to do business with people and firms that “make
us squirm in embarrassment at a conference. And none of us should allow our money
to be managed at a company at which we wouldn’t let our daughters work,” she said.
Others — like Nia Impact Capital CEO Kristin Hull — agree. “To instigate [system-atic] change, being vocal and visible about moving assets away from managers like
Ken Fisher and into women-led companies, funds and managers, is what will make a
big difference right now. We need large investors leading the way and creating a followable path.” — Janet Levaux
What Would Sallie Do?