Sallie Krawcheck: 'I Got Grateful When I Got Fired'


NEW YORK -- Sallie Krawcheck was one of the most powerful women on Wall Street until she became a casualty of the post-financial crisis shakeup at Bank of America. But Krawcheck doesn’t lament her fall. Instead she was “grateful,” the former executive told the audience Thursday at the Third Metric Conference hosted by Arianna Huffington and Mika Brzezinski.

“I got grateful when I got fired,” Krawcheck said. “I said ‘how many people get to get fired and it’s on the front page of The Wall Street Journal?’”

For Krawcheck, losing her job told her how important she actually was. After she was reportedly forced out of Bank of America in 2011 by CEO Brian Moynihan, scores of stories followed lamenting the loss for women on Wall Street and the low glass ceiling in the financial services industry. In much of the news coverage, she earned the epithet “most powerful woman on Wall Street.”

Unlike some of her high-level female peers in the financial services industry -- notably Erin Callahan, former chief financial officer of the now-defunct Lehman Brothers -- Krawcheck didn’t say she was happy to lose her job because it allowed her to focus on other things. Instead, was proud of her prominence and has been unapologetic in the past about the choices she made in order to achieve it.

Krawcheck now is focused on elevating more women to positions of power on Wall Street. She recently became the business leader and an investor at 85 Broads, a paid-membership organization that helps women in the business world advance their careers.

But, as Krawcheck noted during the panel, she and others have more work to do before Wall Street becomes truly diverse. She said that one of the obstacles to achieving this goal is that leaders in the financial services industry and corporate America more generally aren't doing enough to embrace practices that allow employees to be healthy and have balance in their lives -- a focus of the conference.

“We went into the downturn with the financial services companies white, male and middle-aged,” she told the audience, “and we left with them whiter and more middle-aged.”

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