Promoting diversity in banking allows Citigroup to hire employees in the United States who do not have a financial background.

Launched this year, Citigroup’s pilot program aims to bolster its diversity goals by recruiting employees 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 right before they go to business school to give them another opportunity,” said Paul Burroughs, director of global operations and head of corporate banking for North America at the New York-based World Bank.

For years, banks have recruited candidates from liberal arts programs for entry-level positions such as interns and analysts. Citi’s efforts are new, said Patrick Curtis, managing director of online career forum Wall Bourse Oasis, as they seek to attract analyst-management employees from outside the business world.

“The assistant position is generally a post-MBA position and is considered a career position,” Curtis said, referring to an MBA.

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 recruiting network as banks face stiff competition for hiring from peers and tech companies, which has led to pay increases. They are also under pressure from investors and politicians to increase diversity, which has traditionally been lacking in the upper echelons of power.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, in 2018, about 26% of employees in the U.S. financial services industry were women and 1% were black.

Women made up 40.6% of mid- and senior-level Citi employees globally in 2021, up from 37% in 2018, according to the disclosures. In the United States, 8.1% of middle and senior Citi employees were black, up from 6% in 2018.

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

Citi received 125 applications for 10 seats in the new program. According to the bank, two are Hispanic and eight are black.

Applicants complete a three-month crash course in finance before joining the broader class of staff in July, holding positions two levels above interns and analysts and one level below vice presidents. The position usually lasts three to five years before employees can be promoted.

Candidates from third-party financial institutions may need additional support early in their careers, which is what this program aims to achieve, according to Citi’s Burroughs.

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

Participants in the program include a former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development attorney, packaging engineer, and 33-year-old Carolina Botero, a dentist trained at Columbia University.

“They welcomed my experience,” said Botero, who hopes to land a job at investment bank Citi. “They saw my worth.”