Morgan Stanley’s recently released diversity report touts reasonable representation of women and Black employees, but its executive ranks are overwhelmingly filled by white men.

Around 29% of its U.S. employees were ethnically diverse as of the end of 2019, according to a report released by the company in November.

Morgan Stanley also touts that 23% of its U.S. officers — which incudes managing directors, executive directors and vice presidents — were ethnically diverse at year-end 2019. Specifically, that's 3% Black, 5% Hispanic and 14% Asian.

Overall, Morgan Stanley's U.S. workforce was 6% Black, 8% Hispanic and 14% Asian at year-end 2019.

Morgan Stanley defines “ethnically diverse” as employees who are “American Indian or Native Alaskan, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and two or more races.”

A slightly more granular breakdown shows that some interesting dichotomies emerge.

Among Morgan Stanley’s 1,705 executives in the U.S. in 2018, only 23 were Black, while 64 were Hispanic or Latino and 114 were Asian, according to the report, which includes data released by the company as required by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Women held 303 of the roles, and Black women only 14 of the roles, which included executives, senior officials and managers, Morgan Stanley says.

Meanwhile, white women held 4,432 of the administrative support jobs in 2018, compared to 1,074 of those positions held by white men, while Black women held 518 of such jobs, compared to 145 held by Black men, according to the report.

An increase in diversity in the top ranks is nonetheless clear when looking back a few years: While women made up 21% of the firm’s board in 2015, that rose to 29% in 2019, although board seats held by “ethnically diverse” staff stayed at 21% in the same comparative period.

Operating committee seats held by ethnically diverse individuals more than doubled — from 6% of the seats in 2015 to 13% in 2019.

Accountability

Susan Reid, Morgan Stanley’s global head of diversity and inclusion, said that the time was right for such a diversity report, according to Bloomberg.

“It’s a way to show the world that we’re going to be accountable,” she said on Tuesday during Bloomberg’s New Voices event, according to the news service. “Sharing data is part of what we all need to do.”

Morgan Stanley was among the 34 firms on the S&P 100 that promised to release diversity data in the wake of the nationwide reckoning on race prompted by the murder of George Floyd while in police custody in May, Bloomberg writes.

However, Morgan Stanley is facing a racial bias suit brought in June by its former diversity head, Marilyn Booker, accusing the firm of actively trying to silence her when she tried to advocate for diversity and inclusion. At the end of October, the company asked a federal court to toss the suit, as reported.

During the same panel where Reid spoke of Morgan Stanley’s disclosure, Erika Irish Brown, who oversees diversity at Goldman Sachs, said her firm would release a “much larger-scale” report on its staff in April, Bloomberg writes.

Meanwhile, a former American Express CEO says that financial executives blaming a lack of diversity at their firms on a limited talent pool is “a cop-out,” according to Bloomberg.

“Well, how long have you been in charge?” Kenneth Chenault, who became only the fourth Black CEO of a Fortune 500 company when he was named head of AmEx in 2011, said at an Economic Club of New York event earlier this week, according to the news service.

“Because you’re the one who controls what’s put into the pipeline. The reality is that, again, if you simply take the position that the status quo approach and processes are the ones that you’re going to follow, then you’re not going to make progress,” he added.

Chenault, who left AmEx in 2018, did not specify any particular company or executive.

In June, when announcing Wells Fargo’s pledge to double the number of Black executives at the firm, CEO Charles Scharf said the company faced challenges because there was “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 apologized for what he said was “an insensitive comment reflecting my own unconscious bias,” as reported.

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