What It's Like To Be The Youngest Woman Equity Trader In The New York Stock Exchange
Lauren Simmons: I don't want to be just an anomaly. I don't want to be, you know, the only one breaking ceilings. I want there to be other women, minority, anybody. Narrator: Lauren Simmons is the youngest woman to be a full-time broker on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Well, usually I'll say "I, yeah, I work" "at the New York Stock Exchange." "Oh, what do you do?" "An equity trader." And they're shocked, but, you know, the perception is, and especially in a lot of finance movies, "Wolf of Wall Street," that they are white, older men, and so to be 24 now and to be a minority and a woman, it is, it takes people, you know, a second to realize, "Oh, wow, what an awesome job." Narrator: Lauren is just one of two female brokers on the floor. With there being another person that is different from everyone else, it does bring diversity and new conversations and new breath to the floor, as far as looking towards, to a mentor that looks like you, obviously that's not gonna happen. I am grateful that I do get to work with men that do want me to succeed. Rich Rosenblatt, my boss, the CEO of the company, he has given me so much career advice outside of the exchange floor. Narrator: The New York Stock Exchange itself doesn't hire brokers. Individual securities firms do. Rosenblatt Securities hired Lauren in March 2017. She had a degree in genetics but no prior experience in finance. I couldn't care less if she took finance classes. We do research, and I care a lot about your education to be an analyst for us. Here, I care about who you are as a person. Narrator: When Lauren's story was first reported on in March 2018, there was a media storm, and she felt like change was happening. But when Rosenblatt Securities posted a new broker position in May, of over 250 applicants, not a single woman applied. Simmons: Now, I have spoken with several women who will say that they'll post a job and the qualifications 10 years experience and blah blah blah blah blah, and the woman will have everything but the 10 years and will say, "Well, I don't have the 10 years." "Should I apply?" You're more than overqualified to apply for this job. Please apply for it. While as men, again, what I've learned from them, they just do it. We have women applying for other jobs in the firm. I don't know why more women don't apply for jobs on the floor of the exchange. Narrator: According to a 2017 study by Stanford University, men comprised 75% of the wealth management field and filled more than 80% of leadership roles. I think it definitely is a confidence thing and just doing it. When you are in the space where you are extremely uncomfortable and you're fear-driven and you still take the leap, that's when the biggest growth happens. So I think if more women were risk-averse and they took the chance, you would see a lot more women breaking glass ceilings and these stories just being a thing, not a "Oh, my gosh" moment. It would be normalized. Narrator: Lauren is only the second African-American female broker in the Exchange's 226-year history. Simmons: There's a difference in trying to have diversity because that's the hot-topic word right now and actually implementing diversity, and the only way to implement diversity is to really, truly want diversity. It's so easy to throw around the word, and you'll know. You'll know in those leadership roles who is sitting at the top? If the top are all five white men, how diverse is it really? I can't put it all on the men in the firms and the floor, especially when it's not 100% their fault if they don't get any applicants, and I can't put it all on minorities or people who didn't grow up learning finance because what you don't know you're not gonna apply for. You're just not exposed to it. So where does that start? Narrator: Lauren believes it could start with the next generation. Simmons: Honestly, I think things like traditional Wall Street won't even be a thing. I think people will get tired of people in leadership and how they don't give them the opportunity, and they'll write their own narrative. They'll write their own, they'll make their own hedge fund, and everyone a part of that hedge fund will be diverse. Narrator: Next up for Lauren's story, the big screen. Actress Kiersey Clemons is set to play Lauren in a biopic about her journey to the New York Stock Exchange.