Celebrating Black History Month


In commemoration of Black History Month, members of the Societe Generale US Black Leadership Network (BLN) share their insights on a variety of topics, such as their own experiences in the financial services industry and their observations on how the industry can improve opportunities for black professionals. The first interview in this series is with Nicole Phillips, Vice President, Client Relationship Manager.

During your finance career, what improvements have you seen in opportunities for black professionals?

Having a black employee resource group (ERG) across Wall Street is a significant improvement. Just the chance to network and meet other black people within finance at different companies, whether they’re in similar roles or outside of those roles, and hearing about their past success, is important.

What changes do you think the financial services industry needs to make to have more diversity in the industry?

Representation at the top should be a priority. For the younger generation and people coming out of school and looking to come into finance, when you see more people that look like you, maybe come from a similar background as you do, it's enticing. Especially when those people are at senior levels. It says to you, “I can be that in the future.” It’s a great aspiration point to have. Unfortunately, from that perspective, the industry still has a long way to go.

Who was the person you looked up to and realized, “That’s what I could be”?

My father. He was one of the first black men to make vice president at Solomon Brothers, so I grew up in a finance household and wanted to be like my dad.

His generation drew on leaders like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey. They were his motivation, as they are our motivation today.

What's your personal call to action about helping to raise visibility or make change?

Meeting with senior people here at SG, whether it’s senior people in HR or elsewhere, to drive the message on what diversity means. And helping them realize that diversity also is a good financial decision. Clients want to see a diverse group of people, and I don't mean necessarily black but if you have 30 people working on an account, the client wants to see a diverse bunch of people. It's just the way the world is going.

Have there been any ways where SG's Black Leadership Network has helped you with your career?

Yes. The Black Leadership Network has really been good as an overall sponsor and helping me gain more visibility and giving me opportunities that I may not have gotten otherwise.

Could you talk about SG’s diversity efforts beyond the BLN?

In the six years I’ve been at SG, there has been a big push on diversity. We have senior leaders involved in the ERGs. It makes a statement that Slawomir Krupa, the CEO for SG Americas himself, sponsors the Black Leadership Network. That causes a trickle-down effect to raise visibility with other managers. This is one of the many ways SG is proactive about helping promote and cultivate a diverse environment in the workplace.