Among the business sectors largely absent from the current deluge of sexual harassment revelations is the financial services industry, a behemoth that employs 3.2 million people in the United States and is infamous for abuse and discrimination targeting women.
New data suggests that, along with Hollywood, the media, and the restaurant industry, finance might deserve a new turn under the hot lights. A new report from the Government Accountability Office finds that women have made no progress increasing their ranks in management in the financial industry since 2007, with women in New York, home to Wall Street’s power center, faring worst in the country.
Experts in workplace discrimination say that poor pay and promotion practices often are found in the same workplaces where harassment is prevalent. And if Wall Street women are staying quiet, they say, it is not because the industry has reformed itself.
“The conditions that might erect barriers to advancement would be among the same kinds of conditions that could promote higher risk of harassment,” said Joseph Sellers, a Washington, D.C. employment lawyer who has represented women in class-action lawsuits against Walmart and Sterling Jewelers. Sellers said that with its ethos of raunchy humor and other “shared values” among men at the top, Wall Street is an unusually tough place for women looking to get ahead.
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