Annelies Goger Says There Is An Opportunity Gap In Banking For Black People

Matty-Sways

Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf found himself in hot water after comments made in June about reaching diversity goals.

In a Reuters article in June, Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf spoke of his frustration about reaching diversity goals. He said, “While it might sound like an excuse, the unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of Black talent to recruit from with this specific experience as our industry does not have enough diversity in most senior roles.”

Scharf issued an apology on Sept. 23, stating that “across the industry, we have not done enough to improve diversity, especially at senior leadership levels.”

Scharf’s statements are an example of a mindset held by corporate leadership that investing in Black workers is charity work, Brookings Institution economic geographer Annelies Goger said.

“The labor market doesn’t have a ‘skills gap’ – it has an opportunity gap,” Goger wrote in a recent report she co-authored with NOVAworks program manager Luther Jackson. They said the gap is created by, "systematic social exclusion of diverse talent from access to education, economic security, quality jobs, and career mobility over a lifetime.”

The median wealth of a typical white family is $188,200 compared to $24,100 for a median Black family. 

“Unfortunately, there’s a mindset that sees any kind of skill building work that a company does or...investing in education and training [for career mobility among its employees] as a charity operation and it’s often segmented off into like corporate social responsibility,” Goger said. “So it’s not really integrated into the core business of the company.”

Closing the opportunity gap will require “a little bit of self-awareness” among corporations seeking to increase diversity in their workforce about how they “are reproducing people that have similar characteristics instead of being open to more diverse talent pools,” says Goger.

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