Speech by SEC Commissioner:
Furthering Opportunity and Diversity at the SEC: A Positive-Sum Game
Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
ALPFA Panel Discussion and Networking Event
"An Evening at the SEC"
September 28, 2010
I appreciate the kind introduction. I first want to thank the members of the SEC's Office of Human Resources, and the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity for organizing this event, and I want to thank the featured speakers for agreeing to participate as panelists. I also want to take this moment to recognize ALPFA and its partners, the National Association of Black Accountants, the National Black MBA Association, ASCEND, the Hispanic Bar Association of DC, the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of DC, and the Hispanic National Bar Association. As is customary, let me state that the views I express today are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Securities and Exchange Commission, my fellow Commissioners, or members of the staff.
I'm grateful that you're here tonight because it shows that you have an interest in joining the SEC. As a result of recent budget allocations, the Commission is in a position to substantially expand its workforce - including adding numerous mid-to-senior level attorney positions. Recruiting the best and brightest requires hard work and careful thought. It doesn't happen by magic. Moreover, for the SEC to do its best it needs to hire the best and the brightest - and that means undertaking a comprehensive search for talent. Tonight's event is a step in that direction.
I'm delighted to see so many women and minorities in attendance. In my view, the SEC has not made sufficient efforts to attract women and minorities to the agency. The statistics tell a dismal story. While 32 percent of the SEC work force comprised people of color in 2007, only 19% of our attorneys were people of color, and just 7 percent were at senior employee level. The most telling numbers are of our senior officers. As of fiscal year 2009, the SEC's senior officers were approximately 89% white, 4% African-American, 3% Hispanic and 2% Asian. The gender breakdown among these officers is 67% male and 33% female.
Unfortunately, the recently published Partnership for Public Service's Annual Survey of the Best Places to Work in the federal government provided more evidence that the SEC needs to improve. The SEC hit the skids in the "Best Places to Work" rankings, a report compiled of information from federal employees. In the latest rankings, the SEC fell from 11th to 24th place. The Partnership looked at many factors including employee skills, effective leadership, training and development, and support for diversity. While the numbers were disappointing across the board, I was struck by the fact that the SEC ranked 24th out of 28th agencies in support for diversity.
It is absolutely clear that the SEC needs to do a lot more to recruit, retain and advance women and minorities at the professional and senior levels. It is equally clear that an enormous opportunity to make progress on this front in the next year. As a result of new resources, the SEC is slated to hire 800 additional staff - a tremendous influx of new talent for an agency of 3,600 people.
As you can tell from recent efforts, many of us are committed to using these hiring opportunities to not only add high quality skills to the SEC but to also to change the face of the SEC to be more representative of the United States.
Too often I hear a lack of diversity justified with the spurious reasoning that the candidates do not exist. I know this is not true. Just this past May, I moderated an SEC-sponsored recruiting event targeting minority corporate or white collar litigation attorneys. The event, called the SEC Attorney Career Roundtable, was presented here at the SEC's headquarters, and attracted over 280 interested attorneys. Tonight's event, which we had to limit to 600 participants because we ran out of space, is another example that high quality women and minority candidates do exist.
Given the SEC's tremendous hiring opportunity, the SEC senior staff that will ultimately make the hiring decisions must undertake to interview the best and the brightest by conducting a comprehensive search. No search can be comprehensive if the talent pool is homogenous and limited.
The opportunities to build capacity within an agency do not come along often and the SEC must take advantage of this opportunity. By adding your talents to this effort, we can better prepare the SEC to meet future challenges.
This event presents an opportunity for the SEC staff to show you why you should join the SEC. During the session with the panelists you will have the opportunity to hear from a representative group of current SEC attorneys about the challenging and exciting career paths available at the SEC. I invite you to stay after the panel concludes and interact and explore with the SEC staff whether your expertise, experiences and interests align with the needs of the Commission.