Sallie Krawcheck's dad sent her to secretary school. Today, the entrepreneur could give a masterclass in making it on Wall Street.
With stints in top executive positions at Bank of America and Citigroup behind her, Krawcheck's present centers around Ellevest, a New York City-based investment service designed for women that she co-founded in 2016. The startup marks Krawcheck's swift switch to entrepreneurship, catapulted forward by her high-profile departure from her position as head of wealth management at Bank of America's Merrill Lynch.
In a 2011 article entitled "The Last Women Standing On Wall Street," the New York Times used the story of Krawcheck's departure to highlight the seemingly insurmountable gender imbalance on Wall Street, and in the financial industry as a whole. That experience, she says, inspired her to endeavor to reshape how women are perceived in finance. In doing so, she needed to first identify why they are being victimized. On stage at the CB Insights Future of Fintech conference, last week, she had a very simple answer: money.
"When I was first on Wall Street it was crazy and uncomfortable," said Krawcheck, during an interview with Rebecca Blumenstein of the New York Times. "Wall Street has done a much better job of serving men than women."
She added that if women were instead the breadwinners, that imbalance would shift--instantly. The current #MeToo movement has the potential to help push this change, Krawcheck added. "Women are awake in a way they haven't been, and underlying all of this, not really stated, is money."
It's already starting to happen. She pointed to the numerous businesses that have already been touched by the #MeToo movement; those that have seen their corporate cultures transformed into classrooms.
"There has been, among women, a rising up," she said. "Whether it's marching, whether it's taking Travis Kalanick out of Uber and finding out how to do that. Whether it's the women at Nike coming together and changing the leadership team there in that culture. All of a sudden women are saying 'Wait a minute.'"
In time, Krawcheck believes money will ensure women have a larger voice and more power to push for parity. "Money is power. Money is independence. Money is freedom," Krawcheck said. "Money is 'take your friggin' hand off my leg,' and men have more money than we've had."
Once that changes, she added, it will all be over. "I'll say 'til I'm blue in the face: We won't be fully equal with men until we're financially equal with men."