A head of risk assessment at embattled Silicon Valley Bank has been accused of prioritizing diversity initiatives over her actual role after the company collapsed on Friday.
Jay Ersapah, who describes herself as a ‘queer person of color with a working-class background’, organized a number of LGBTQ initiatives, including a month-long Pride campaign and implemented ‘safe space’ meetings for staff. .
In a corporate video posted just nine months ago, she said she “couldn’t be more proud” to be working for SVB serving “underrepresented entrepreneurs.”
It comes after the company became the largest bank to collapse since the 2008 financial crisis, revealing a $1.8 billion loss on its finances.
The spectacular fall from grace puts Ersapah under scrutiny as ‘Head of Financial Risk Management and Model Risk’ for the company’s presence in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Ersapah was based in the bank’s London office.
Jay Ersapah describes herself as a “working-class queer person of color.”
Last year, the professional network Outstanding listed Ersapah as one of 100 LGBTQ Future Leaders.
‘Jay is a leading figure in the bank’s awareness activities, including serving as a panelist at SVB’s Global Pride town hall to share her experiences as a lesbian of colour, moderating SVB’s EMEA Pride town hall and was instrumental in starting the organization’s first global “safe space capture.” -up, “supporting employees to share their coming-out experiences,” reads her bio on the Outstanding website.
She adds that she is ‘allied’ with the gay rights charity Stonewall and has written numerous articles to promote LGBTQ awareness.
These included ‘Lesbian Awareness Day and Trans Awareness week’.
Separately, she was also praised in a Facebook post by the ‘Diversity Role Models’ group, a charity that campaigns against homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in UK schools.
In a corporate document for the bank, he said: ‘”You can’t be what you can’t see” has always been a quote that stuck with me.
‘As a queer person of color and first-generation immigrant from a working-class background, there weren’t many role models for me to ‘see’ growing up.
“I feel privileged to help spread the word about queer experiences, partner with charities, and most of all, create a sense of community for our LGBTQ+ employees and allies.”
Ersapah hails from the UK where he studied for a BA in Economics at the University of Warwick.
He has worked for a number of high-profile names in the financial sector, including Citi, Barclays and consultancy Deloitte, according to his Linkedin profile.
She describes herself as someone who has ‘proven competence in demanding roles’.
His profile also boasts of his “interpersonal skills,” “growth mindset,” and ability to lead “high-performing teams.”
Last year he appeared in an SVB corporate video pretending his pro-LGBTQ credentials.
“Our mission at SVB is to proactively make sure that our customers, employees and partners feel heard and that their voices matter.
“From funding underrepresented employers to having multiple employee resource groups, I couldn’t be more proud to work for a company like SVB.”
This weekend, critics blasted Ersapah’s apparent concern for LGBTQ issues.
One Facebook user, Paul Tucker, wrote: ‘The Board of Directors (SVB) it’s full of diversity hires who are there because of their rousing credentials.
They all have pronouns in their biographies, which are full of corporate Newspeak.
‘The Head of Financial Risk Management and Model Risks was this madman: Jay Ersapah.
‘This is what happens when you allow people to manage your money based on sound principles rather than their actual skill and competence.
‘I hope the depositors of this failed bank enjoy all that diversity, because diversity is their strength, huh?’
He signed the post: ‘Wake up, go broke.’
Another Twitter user said: ‘SVB’s Head of Financial Risks, Jay Ersapah, could have been busy with bigger projects at the bank, such as LGBTQ issues, instead of assessing risk.
Panic rocked the financial sector on Friday after the sudden collapse of SVB.
The bank was sensationally shut down by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, which placed its remaining assets under the control of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
The crisis broke out after he disclosed a $1.8 billion loss on his bold holdings this week.
CEO Greg Becker had urged investors in a conference call on Thursday to “stay calm” and not “panic.”
Greg Becker, the chairman of SVB, lobbied Congress in 2015 to lessen supervision of his bank.
But it caused nervous customers to withdraw large balances to avoid losses.
Deposits of up to $250,000 are protected by federal law, but anyone with larger sums tied up now faces losing their money.
Dozens of customers were filmed yesterday lining up in front of a branch to withdraw the cash they had before the fight.
Meanwhile, police were called to the bank’s headquarters after a group of disgruntled tech founders turned up on the doorstep.