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Citigroup Doubles Black Executive Ranks, Still Has ‘Lot of Work’ to Do

By Jenny Surane and Max Abelson

Black executives are rising inside Citigroup Inc., even as the firm says there’s more to be done.

The bank more than doubled its senior Black executives in 2021 to nine from four a year earlier, according to data on its US workforce released this month. The percentage of Black executives hit 7.7%, up from 3.8% — and the number of Black women with top roles jumped to four from one.

Citigroup headquarters in New York, U.S., on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. Citigroup Inc. was the first major Wall Street bank to impose a strict Covid-19 vaccine mandate: Get a shot or face termination. With its deadline fast approaching, the company is preparing for action.

Wall Street has struggled to consistently fulfill promises about representation Still, Black employees at Citi in the category that includes mid-level managers jumped to 777 from 633 a year earlier. The numbers of White managers also increased.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” Erika Irish Brown, the bank’s head of talent and diversity, said in an interview. “Have we made significant progress, and progress we’re proud of? Yes, absolutely. But to say, ‘We’ve done it, we’ve figured it out,’ or ‘Game over,’ that’s not the case at all.”

Citi, which said earlier this year that it slightly beat an 8% target for Black managers in roles from assistant vice president to managing director, has also sought to shrink the gap between what it pays Black and White executives. Minority employees in the bank’s US business made 96 cents for every dollar for White colleagues in 2021, up from 93 cents three years earlier, according to the bank, one of the few major corporations to release unadjusted data on pay gaps.

Across Wall Street, where the biggest banks were all run by men until Jane Fraser took over Citigroup in 2020, pledges to boost racial and gender diversity have had mixed results. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is losing its most powerful Black women, according to new data, even as the bank said it had its most diverse managing director class. At Morgan Stanley, whose MD class was its most ethnically inclusive, a slate of potential successors to the top spot is mostly White and male.

The percentages of Citigroup Black employees in the US had been falling consistently for years. In 2009, Black workers made up about one in six people at the bank, which dropped steadily to about one in ten a decade later. Citigroup’s recent jump, to 10.9% from about 10.4% a year earlier, puts the bank back where it was around 2015.

There was one multiracial person among 117 executives in Citigroup’s US offices in 2021, compared with one out of 104 a year earlier. Overall, the percentage of total employees described in regulatory reports as multiracial fell to 1.2% from 1.4%.

“We’ve been on a journey,” said Irish Brown, who joined the bank last year from Goldman. “We’re not going to take our foot off the gas at all.”

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