Silicon Valley Bank Pushed “Wake Up” Programs Before Collapse


March 11, 2023 | 20:24

A head of risk management at Silicon Valley Bank spent a lot of time spearheading several “awake”[ads1]; LGBTQ+ programs, including a “safe place” to come out, as the firm spiraled toward collapse.

Jay Ersapah, Head of Financial Risk Management at SVB’s UK branch, launched initiatives such as the company’s first month-long Pride campaign and a new blog highlighting mental health awareness for LGBTQ+ youth.

“The phrase ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ resonates with me,” Ersapah said on the company’s website.

“As a queer person of color and a first-generation immigrant from a working-class background, there weren’t many role models for me to ‘look up to’ growing up.”

Her efforts as the company’s European LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group co-chair earned her a spot on SVB’s “outstanding LGBT+ Role Model Lists 2022,” a list shared in a company post just four months before the bank was shut down by federal authorities due to liquidity fears.

Silicon Valley Bank was shut down by federal authorities due to liquidity fears.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

In addition to introducing SVB’s first safe space catch-up – which encouraged staff to share their coming-of-age stories – and serving on LGBTQ+ panels around the world, Ersapah has also spent time over the past year as director of diversity role models and voluntary work as a mentor for Migrant Leaders.

“I feel privileged to co-chair the LGBTQ+ ERG and help spread awareness of lived queer experiences, partner with charities, and above all create a sense of community for our LGBTQ+ staff and allies.”

Ersapah could not immediately be reached for comment.

SVB was abruptly shut down Friday by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation shortly after it revealed it had taken a $1.8 billion hit from a $21 billion fire sale of its bond holdings.

It was facing a cash crunch due to rising interest rates, and a recent meltdown in the technology sector led many customers to freeze their deposits.

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus said pressure to introduce “woke” policies could have led to SVB’s dramatic failure.
Getty Images

The shares of SVB Financial, the bank’s parent company, had fallen by as much as 60% on Thursday.

The stock fell another 60% in premarket trading on Friday until it was halted.

On Saturday, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus insinuated that “woke” policies like those launched by Ersapah could have led to SVB’s dramatic failure.

Follow The Post’s coverage of Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse

I feel sorry for all these people who lost all their money in this vigilante bank. You know, it was more distressing to hear that bank officials were selling off their stocks before this happened. It’s depressing to me,” he told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto.

“Who knows if the Justice Department would go after them? They are a watchful company so I guess not. And they probably get away with it.”

The businessman accused the Biden administration of pressuring companies and banks to consider global warming over shareholder returns, resulting in catastrophic financial pitfalls.

SVB launched initiatives such as the company’s first month-long Pride campaign and a new blog emphasizing mental health awareness for LGBTQ+ youth.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“These banks are poorly run because everyone is focused on diversity and all the wake issues and not concentrating on the one thing they should, which is shareholder returns,” Marcus said.

“Instead of protecting shareholders and their employees, they are more concerned about social policy. And I think it’s probably a poorly run bank.

“They have been there for many years. It’s pathetic that so many people lost money that won’t get it back.”

The impact of SVB’s collapse is not entirely clear, but experts believe it could affect the future of regional and medium-sized banks across the county.

Sources told The Post that wealthy clients frantically pulled their money out of SVB after it collapsed and rushed to put it in big banks, such as JPMorgan or Bank of America.

SVB’s collapse could herald an end to innovation, others argued – SVB was known for backing start-ups, leaving a hole that other banks might not rush to fill.

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