Ariel's Mellody Hobson Calls Out Finance Chiefs on Diversity

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Mellody Hobson, president of mutual fund company Ariel Investments, called out the finance and business community for failing to make strides in diversity.

“The answer that we often get is, ‘We’re working on it’," Hobson told attendees Thursday at the New York Times DealBook Conference in New York. The response is fair, she explained, "unless you’ve been saying it for a very long time."

Mellody Hobson

Photographer: Calvin Sit/Bloomberg

Executives in the finance and corporate worlds pay lip service to hiring more women and people of color, but they fail to assess their progress like they would judge their success toward a sales goal, she said. Hobson, who is on the board of directors at companies including Starbucks Corp. and Estee Lauder Cos., said finance firms often have marketing materials that include "one woman or one person of color bobbing in a sea of white men."

"You need to measure to make sure your shots are falling anywhere near the target," said Hobson.

With a nod to Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who drew fire and praise when he decided to kneel during the National Anthem, she said: “Are there any high profile business leaders who are willing to take a stand or a knee?"

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