Wall Street Powerhouse Turns to Feminism

by Brenda Pitt

Sallie Krawcheck by Dirk Eusterbrock


Sallie Krawcheck, 48, has had an exhilarating and rocky career as one of the most powerful people on Wall Street. In 2002, she was on top of the financial world: she was on the cover of Fortune, and the public hailed her as the “last honest analyst.” She reinvented Citigroup and became the organization’s chief financial officer, only to be demoted and then let go in 2008. 


When she left Citigroup, the media and the public scorned her and other women in her position. Women are rarely given top positions on Wall Street, and unfortunately, three major players, including Krawcheck, Zoe Cruz of Morgan Stanley, and Erin Callan of Lehman Brothers, were let go at around the same time. 


Krawcheck did bounce back, improving business for Bank of America’s wealth-management group Merrill Lynch, but again, her career was cut short in the midst of a management scandal. She had trouble finding work at another organization, in part because of her sex and lack of solid connections with other women. 


At this point, the analyst-extraordinaire had had enough, and she made a bold move: she bought 85 Broads, a women’s networking group, cleverly named after the address that once housed Goldman Sachs. The platform is home to “30,000 trailblazing women who are inspired, empowered, and connected,” explains its website.  


35 Broads Homepage


This summer, Krawcheck sat down with New York Magazine’s Helaine Olen to discuss her shift from banking to working with a women’s network. She tells Olen that she hopped on the feminist train a bit later in her career because before the economic collapse, “drawing attention to [the women’s issue] was not something [she] felt would be particularly helpful.” Since then, she’s obviously had a change of heart; the fact remains that more diverse organizations are bound to “[perform better], at least as a moneymaking enterprise.” In other words, we need individuals of all genders handling our money!


Since the economic collapse, Wall Street has been hesitant to hire women in leadership positions. Krawcheck explains that executives want to stick to what they know; diversity in gender and in opinion makes people uncomfortable. “For whatever reason, people are more comfortable networking with their own gender,” she tells Olen. 


Of course, the lack of diversity on Wall Street is a major reason the economic crash happened at all, so the work of Krawcheck and the other women at 85 Broads is crucial.  Olen writes, “[Krawcheck] hopes 85 Broads will provide women with the boost men effortlessly offer one another.” We hope so too. 


Thanks to New York Magazine and 85 Broads 

Images via Wealth Management and 85 Broads

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