Goldman Sachs, like all banks, has a problem with women in the senior ranks. The last time the firm promoted people to managing director, in 2013, only 20% of its promotions were women. The previous time it promoted people to managing director, in 2012, only 23% of its promotions were women. What proportion of Goldman’s MD promotions will be women in a few month’s time? The trend is not promising.
Goldman is, however, making an effort. During a Google Hangout this afternoon on ‘Women at Goldman Sachs EMEA’, much was made of the bank’s ‘Women’s Careers Strategies Initiative’ (WCSI) aimed at female associates.
“It’s the best programme I’ve participated in since I joined Goldman Sachs,” enthused one of the associate level participants. Another said she’d met important mentors through the program.
WCSI is about more than just mentors, however. Joanna Hannaford, an MD in Goldman’s technology division, who was leading the discussion, said the program is about providing women with a career plan for the next five years. ‘Pooja’ another MD-level participant, said it helped her get a perspective on where she wanted to go, the steps she needed to take to get there, and the people she needed to network with. “I still keep in touch with all the members of my class,” she added.
Goldman’s website says the WCSI program is to help women make the transition from associate to vice president. It runs for six months and participants have to be nominated.
By targeting associate-level women, who are typically aged anything from 26 to 30, Goldman Sachs is getting to the heart of the problem. A study into women’s finance careers by PWC in 2013 found that women drop out of financial services before they even reach the middle management level, meaning that something needs to be done to retain them early on.
Goldman’s efforts appear to be having an effect. “The support here is outstanding,” said another new associate, “I feel really supported – not just by people in my division, but throughout the firm.”
If this is indeed the case, we might start seeing some improvements in the proportion of Goldman women at MD level soon. Maybe 25% by 2017?
Photo credit: Sara Ashley