Morgan Stanley, Accessing female graduate talent

Widening the pool of applications is a vital prerequisite for Morgan Stanley to increase its female talent pipeline. Morgan Stanley identified a gap between the number of women at universities and the number of applications they were receiving for entry-level programmes, from across the EMEA region. They conducted focus-groups to understand what messages were important to students in order to inspire them to apply. This research found that female students are reticent about applying to the investment banking industry due to misconceptions, concern over a lack of work-life balance and a glass-ceiling. Additionally, myths around the entry-criteria and opportunities available to women were cited.

Morgan Stanley is focused on educating female students about opportunities in the sector and providing access to female role models. The organisation’s female-focused recruiting initiatives are proactively sponsored by the EMEA Diversity Champion, who is the Head of Fixed Income for EMEA and the Global Head of Fixed Income Client Coverage. The Pre-University Outreach is spearheaded by two female Managing Directors in Equities and Commodities.

Pre-University Outreach

Morgan Stanley identified the need to connect with females earlier in their studies and researched and targeted 35 high performing state and independent schools to partner with for its ‘Schools Outreach Programme’. A senior female Managing Director/Executive Director and a junior female employee were aligned to each school with the mandate of building and sustaining a relationship, attending careers fairs, running CV workshops, demystifying career opportunities and keeping in touch with stand-out students. Morgan Stanley developed a Career Advisors’ Toolkit to help support students, programme alumni and schools throughout the academic year. Additionally to increase their outreach, information on insight programmes were marketed via firm partnerships with external organisations. This ongoing initiative culminates in a three-day insight programme for girls in years 12 and 13 called ‘Step In, Step Up’, which strives to solidify the educational foundations and relationships that have been built over the academic year.

The programme included:

  • Divisional overviews
  • Experience-sharing sessions with former interns and Step In, Step Up participants
  • Interactive case studies and presentations
  • Skill sessions on networking, creating an impact and the interview process
  • Cross-divisional networking opportunities with representatives at varying levels of seniority

High potential students from this programme are invited to return for two days job-shadowing if they are going into year 13, and are encouraged to apply to the ‘Spring Insight Programme’ if they are going into the first year of university. Students in the latter category are also paired with a junior female mentor to support their transition into university.

University Outreach

In 2012, Morgan Stanley held 13 ‘Leading the Way’ tailored female skill and networking sessions at campuses across the UK and EMEA. These are sponsored by the organisation’s Internal Women’s Business Alliance and are led by a senior female role model. Employees who are alumni of Morgan Stanley’s various female talent programmes attend and share their experiences. Additionally, students receive a newly developed female-specific brochure detailing how the Firm strives to attract, retain and develop female employees as an integral foundation of the culture.


More than 75 school visits have taken place since the ‘Schools Outreach Programme’ launched in January 2011, reaching more than 2,500 pre-university students.

In 2012:

  • In 2012, Step In, Step Up received more than 460 applications, a 16% increase on 2011.
  • In response to demand, Morgan Stanley increased the programme size from 86 to 94 females in 2012.
  • Student feedback has been extremely positive and due to increased demand, the programme will run twice in 2013.Through the ‘Undergraduate Outreach’, Morgan Stanley has met with more than 400 female undergraduates and equipped them with the information and tools to succeed in their careers.
  • The Spring Insight Programme has seen a 2% increase in female numbers.

Whilst it is too early to measure impact in terms of hires, Morgan Stanley has reached over 1,600 girls at female specific events in 2012 alone, and views this approach to building a female talent pipeline as a multi-year strategy.

Source: Opportunity Now, Business in the Community

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