Tough Choices for Wall Street Women

by Erin McCune on August 7, 2006

in Banking, Women Professionals, Workplace Flexibility

Sunday's New York Times business section has a lengthy article on Wall Street's attempt to retain women professionals and woo back others that have left. It echoes many of the themes in Sylvia Anne Hewlett's March 2005 HBR article and features profiles of two women (one starting out, one attempting to return to Wall Street).

It's hard to imagine the go go, all nighter culture of Wall Street transforming into a healthier, flexible workplace. The major banks recognize the need to retain top talent especially as the number of new women MBAs from top schools appears to be flattening out (graphic in article). They've instituted new programs and policies and are making a honest effort.

But Wall Street still has a long way to go. Janet Hansen, of 85 Broads, observes what happens when the promises of workplace flexibility meet the internet:

But even if younger women sign on, and women who have opted for more
family time come back, Wall Street will still have to grapple with the
long hours and the lack of flexibility that a career there demands.
They will also have to confront the fact that real-world information on
the Internet tends to undermine the banks’ recruitment efforts.

“They come in and say, ‘You can run at lunchtime and leave when you
want,’ ” said Ms. Hanson of 85 Broads. “These kids read blogs. They
read They know what really happens.”

Wall Street’s Women Face a Fork in the Road
The New York Times
August 6, 2006
(full text available for 7 days)

The Hidden Brain Drain: Women and Minorities as Unrealized Assets
Harvard Business Review
March 2005

Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success
Center for Work Life Policy
February 2005
(press release with key findings)

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