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Days of traders slamming phones becoming a thing of the past


When Covid forced Wall St. executives to send workers home last spring, managers had to be lenient

The days of traders slamming phones are becoming a thing of the past.

Such behaviour was a frequent sight when Citigroup Inc.’s Deirdre Dunn got her start on Wall Street two decades back. One colleague even kept a mini baseball bat in his desk to hammer his phone back together. Now, with banks desperate to attract diverse candidates to their hallowed trading floors, there’s far less tolerance for that kind of hard-charging attitude, she said.

If I look at trading when I started, I would say a phone or occasionally a computer got broken at least once a week, or once every two weeks, Dunn, Citigroup’s global co-head of rates trading, said during a virtual roundtable last week, held ahead of International Women’s Day on Monday. That kind of thing doesn’t happen anymore, or it rarely happens.

Wall Street has long known it needs to change from a bellicose boys’ club, with many of the world’s largest banks pledging to increase women’s roles up and down their corporate ladders. With the pandemic causing a record number of women to leave the workforce entirely, those efforts matter even more.

For its part, Citigroup has been working to boost the share of women from assistant vice president up through the managing director level to bolster its efforts to close the pay gap between male and female employees. It’s the first major U.S. bank with a woman as chief executive officer, and one of the few financial firms to disclose details of that gender pay disparity.

When the pandemic forced Wall Street executives to send workers home in droves last spring, managers had to be lenient.

Despite the added stress, trading desks thrived. The five biggest U.S. investment banks notched their first year with over $100 billion in such revenue in over a decade. That’s all meant that trading executives have learned they can offer the flexibility that women long craved and would often leave finance in order to get.

The world is not going to end if I wake up earlier, go through my emails and then every morning, from 7 to 8, I feed my kids breakfast, Ayesa Latif, who oversees Citigroup’s electronic foreign-exchange sales teams in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said during the event. If you need to leave early and go to a school play or a sports game and log on later to finish your work, that’s perfectly fine.

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