Would-be women of Wall Street might be wasting their time correcting their uptalk or working on their golf swings. No matter how much they assimilate to the male-dominated finance industry culture, they’ll never know the secret handshake that bonded University of Pennsylvania student Conor Hails and a Barclays banker at a recent recruiting reception. Hails tells Bloomberg News: “We exchanged a grip, and he said, ‘Every Sigma Chi gets a business card.’ … We’re trying to create Sigma Chi on Wall Street, a little fraternity on Wall Street.” But it turns out Wall Street is already a very large, Panhellenic frat house row.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon sent “almost 3,000 men into finance,” according Bloomberg’s analysis of résumés on LinkedIn, “which shows no other industry employing more than 1,800.” J.P. Morgan alone has 140 Sigma Phi Epsilon members, with “only Bank of America and Wells Fargo employing more.” In some places, brothers outnumber women altogether, including San Francisco-based private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman, LLC and — by a factor of four to one — the analyst program at Peter J. Solomon Co.
The frat-to-firm pipeline is greased by unethical recruiting practices — like the e-mail from Wells Fargo to Dartmouth’s Alpha Delta chapter that explicitly promised that members’ résumés would go to the top of the pile — but also sheer clannishness. “[Colleagues] want to hire people and bring up people you can get along with,” Deutsche Bank’s Christophe Albrecht, formerly of Theta Chi, told Bloomberg. Once such alums strike it rich, they pay it forward, making large donations to their fraternities in order insulate them from administrators who want to shut them down or force them to go coed. But before we get all worked up over “entitlement” and “privilege,” let’s remember that these guys earned these jobs, the hard way: in disgusting and sometimes deadly hazing rituals.