12 current and former black brokers of Merrill Lynch were awarded a large settlement in a racial discrimination class-action lawsuit against that firm, one of Wall Street’s biggest. The brokerage house had been accused of creating a hostile work environment and of having allowed discrimination in hiring, promotion and pay. It is hard to imagine that of approximately 14,000 financial advisors today only 2% are black; in 25 of the 50 states there are no black brokers. But beyond the statistics, what’s wrong here?
The Merrill Lynch Board of Directors is ignorant or stupid. That is what is wrong. If they claim ignorance, then I hope that they have replaced their most senior HR management with professionals who actually have a clue. Even average managers understand that a diverse workforce usually leads to better business performance. New HR management should immediately establish a Diversity Council comprised of cross-functional leaders to spark the charge. What they should do? It’s not rocket science, but taken to lengths see the below extract for practical ideas and initiatives from an article by Michele E. A. Jayne and Robert L. Dipboye [Human Resource Management, Winter 2004, Vol. 43, No. 4, Pp. 409–424 © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com)].
Don’t be stupid or ignorant about diversity. Ask our HR Experts for more advice at www.hrinsights.com.