New Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon has long championed gender equality on Wall Street, publicly pushing banks to employ more women, particularly in leadership positions, the vast majority of which are still currently filled by men. It likely came as no coincidence that just a week after Solomon was named the bank’s next CEO, Goldman appointed four women to its highly-influential management committee, nearly doubling female representation on its most senior governing body. Less than a week on the job, Solomon is now taking aim at the junior ranks.
Back in March, Solomon and then-CEO Lloyd Blankfein set a goal of having an even gender split of college graduate hires by 2021. Speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit this week, Solomon provided more details around how that goal would be realized.
He said that, of the tens of thousands of investment banking applications Goldman receives each year, between 12,000 and 15,000 are deemed to be qualified candidates. Of that group, around 8,000 will be men and 4,000 will be women, he said. “If the recruiting process lets it go on its own way – lets the historical biases come in – you wind up with something that looks like two-thirds [men] and one-third [women]” in terms of hires, Solomon said. “But if you actually say: let’s go get the 150 best women out of the 4,000 qualified women and let’s take the 150 best men [out of the 8,000 qualified men], you wind up in a different place. And that’s…changed the perspective of allowing people to just gravitate to some of the biases that are built into the system.”
The comments are particularly interesting due to Solomon’s unique level of frankness and specificity. Every bank has gender goals, but most executives talk about increasing diversity by expanding and leveling the recruiting pool, rather than coming out and stating directly that they’ll hire a larger percentage of female applicants – even if that is a more realistic way of hitting short-term targets. Solomon also acknowledged that gender bias in the hiring process remains a reality through a “system” that also perpetrates Goldman Sachs. Again, bank executives tend to talk about diversity issues as an industry problem. Solomon appears to be suggesting that, if senior leadership didn’t step in, historical biases would have likely wormed their way into Goldman’s hiring process.
None of these thoughts are necessarily groundbreaking – there is plenty of research to back up the reality of gender diversity issues in banking. But, if nothing else, they showcase Solomon’s personality and leadership style: direct and expressive. “When you want to make changes, sometimes you have to just get simple and practical to what will move the needle,” he said. Providing what appears to be a hiring mandate rather than a goal is certainly one way to do that.
Elsewhere, the now-head of cross-asset strategy at Morgan Stanley proved there are a number of ways to get noticed by a potential employer. Sifting through resumes back in 2004, hiring manager Gregory Peters came across Andrew Sheets, who worked as a cartoonist at Brown University’s student newspaper. It was his finance-related drawings that helped him stand out from the pack.
"I thought it was perfect," Peters, now a senior fund manager at PGIM Fixed Income, told the Financial Times. "He could take the most complex things going on in markets and turn them into these brilliant little cartoons." Sheets didn’t stop drawing once he got the job. The FT published several dozen outside of their paywall that paint an interesting picture of the last dozen years in finance.
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