Providing the Tools for Success
The BEN offers practical training, equipping less seasoned employees with the tools for a successful career trajectory, including coaching on how to network and how to be strategic in forming relationships with peers, colleagues and leaders.
"When I joined the firm in 1992," says Curry Hoffman, "I was one of three Black employees in an office of approximately 100, and the only Black sales assistant. I didn't have the professional Rolodex that many of my other colleagues did of connectivity around the firm. So, it was a very intimidating environment for me as a young Black woman."
She adds, "Being from a blue-collar family and a first-generation college graduate, the mentality is, 'You go to work, put your head down, do a great job, and you'll be rewarded accordingly.' But I soon realized that relationship capital was also critically important." Curry Hoffman began to proactively build her network and leveraged the BEN community when it was formed over a decade later.
Expanding the Vision
The BEN also strives to make an impact in the greater Morgan Stanley community and beyond. It supports firmwide diversity initiatives and amplifies Morgan Stanley's core value to commit to diversity and inclusion. Aligning and coordinating efforts across the firm are critical, both for internal culture and bringing value to clients.
One example is the Morgan Stanley HBCU Scholars Program, which Wingfield helps to oversee. The program, launched in 2021, offers scholarships and career training for students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). "We also want to be a part of helping expose the Black community to the great careers you can have at Morgan Stanley and the financial services industry overall," says Wingfield.
Curry Hoffman and Wingfield recognize that in a post-COVID world, a significant percentage of the firm's employees no longer congregate as often in person in the workplace and many have been impacted mentally, physically and financially. Therefore, bringing people together outside of work for BEN events and meetings and standing up programming focused on wellbeing in those three areas is at the top of their agenda. "If we can bring people together again and generate real conversations about wellbeing, I'd be extremely proud of that," says Wingfield.
They are also looking to capitalize more on the firm's progress in hiring and promoting Black employees by tapping the experience of other Black Managing Directors. "Junior employees want to hear our stories," says Curry Hoffman. "We want to ensure that we're providing exposure and inspiration to the next generation of talent, and even recruits, as well as those at the firm who are already well along in their careers."
Over the past few years, Morgan Stanley has strengthened its commitment to diversity and inclusion, and groups like the BEN play a vital role in bringing those efforts to fruition in meaningful ways. As Curry Hoffman says, “It's so important for our community to know what's in the art of possible. 31 years ago, I never dreamed I would have a successful career on Wall Street, let alone as a Managing Director."
And for professionals just starting in their careers, whether at Morgan Stanley or not, Wingfield has essential advice. “Get involved,” she advises. “Get involved early. Get involved often. Be part of the solution.”