Promoting diversity in banking allows Citigroup to recruit employees in the United States who do not have financial experience.

Launched this year, the Citigroup pilot program aims to strengthen its diversity goals by recruiting from underrepresented minorities as well as from non-traditional backgrounds.

The group consists of 10 recruits, including lawyers, a dentist and an engineer – and eight of them did not attend business school.

“We’re trying to catch them just before they go to business school to give them another chance,” said Paul Burroughs, director of global operations and head of North America’s corporate banking at the World Bank in New York.

Over the years, banks have recruited candidates from the humanities for entry-level positions, such as interns and analysts. Citi’s efforts are new, said Patrick Curtis, managing director of the Wall Bourse Oasis online career forum, as he seeks to attract partners who lead analysts from outside the business world.

“An assistant is usually a post-MBA role, and it’s considered a career role,” said Curtis, referring to a master’s degree in business administration.

Citi is betting that non-MBA candidates will bring a variety of industry experience to help its investment and commercial banking teams.

His program is also expanding its recruitment network as banks face stiff competition from hires from counterparts and technology companies, which has led to higher wages. They are also under pressure from investors and politicians to increase diversity, which has traditionally been lacking in the upper echelons.

According to the US Government’s Accountability, in 2018, about 26% of US financial services workers were women and 1% were black.

In 2021, 40.6% of Citi’s middle and upper level employees worldwide were women, compared to 37% in 2018, according to its disclosures. In the United States, 8.1% of middle- and senior-level employees were black, compared to 6% in 2018.

Citi, JPMorgan Chase & Co and others have expanded their recruitment to more universities and cities, and have offered training for people from other professions to attract talent for internships and leading banking positions.

Citi received 125 applications for 10 seats in the new program. Two Latinos and eight blacks, the bank said.

Candidates take an approximately three-month accelerated finance course before joining the wider legal class in July, a position two levels higher than interns and analysts and one level lower than vice presidents. The position usually lasts three to five years before employees can be promoted.

Candidates in external finance may need additional support at the beginning of their careers, which the program should provide, said Burroughs from Citi.

Investment bank employees can work 80 to 90 hours a week, Curtis said, which can be difficult to adapt.

The program includes a former attorney for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a packaging engineer, and 33-year-old Carolina Botero, who graduated from Columbia University.

“They welcomed my experience,” said Botero, who hopes to get a job at Citi Investment Bank. “They saw my value.”