Heralded as the first Black woman trader on Wall Street, Lauren Simmons today works to help diverse talent join the world of finance. “I am committed to empowering the next generation when it comes to working in finance,” Simmons says.
She’s working with companies on their DE&I efforts and spreading the word to potential talent about finance careers.
“One of the problems with male-dominated spaces is how do we find this [diverse] talent? And we know the talent is out there,” Simmons says. Companies must work to make sure they are getting the word out and attracting diverse talent to apply to their positions.
In addition, Simmons goes to colleges and universities to talk to students about finance careers. “People are unaware that these jobs are out there, and they can actually apply.” Only 30% of people go into careers related to their majors, says Simmons, who studied genetics at school.
Still, while interest in diversity is growing, challenges persist, Simmons says. For example, a large bank was recruiting her as part of a DE&I initiative, and at the time, there were only two Black women at the company. Simmons held off taking the position but agreed to check back a year later to see if the bank had made progress on its initiative. Fast-forward one year, she found the position and the group it had been part of were dissolved, raising questions about the company’s true commitment to diversity.
Simmons says it is the sum of her life experiences that led her to supporting DE&I. Her mother works in HR at a Fortune 50 company and does everything with diversity in mind. Simmons also has a twin brother with a disability, and she has always been an advocate for him.
For the future, Simmons is working on a book and on a television program.
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