The Unseen Wall Street of 1969-1975: And Its Significance for Today

By Alec Benn | Go to book overview

21
The Different Reasons for the Decline in Racial and Gender Discrimination on Wall Street

Jewish firms had existed on Wall Street ever since -- even before -- the founding of The New York Stock Exchange. But no core of black firms existed in the early sixties. Not until 1970 did a black man become a member of The New York Stock Exchange.1 He did so as an individual and became a partner in Newburger, Loeb & Co. Not until 1971 did the first firm owned by blacks become a member.2

So many Jews have been governors of The New York Stock Exchange since it was founded that they can't be counted. A black man became a member of the governing body of The New York Stock Exchange only in 19723 when the board of governors of The New York Stock Exchange was replaced by a board of directors.

No organized effort was ever made by Protestant leaders on Wall Street to push the hiring of Jews or Catholics by Protestant-dominated firms, but in the early seventies, John Whitehead and several other Wall Streeters decided to do something to increase the number of blacks holding important positions in investment firms.

John was only one of several partners at Goldman Sachs at the time, but he was chairman of the Securities Industry Association. Here's how he recalls the situation and what they did:

"The problem was that very few blacks went to graduate business school. Smart, able blacks who did well in college would go on to law school, they'd go on to medicine, but they didn't go into business because they thought there was prejudice in business, particularly on Wall Street, against blacks. . . .

"The program we started at the SIA had to do with more interviewing at black colleges, which were very good and were turning out good

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