Goldman Sachs – like all banks – has got a problem with women. And Goldman Sachs, like all banks, is trying to do something about it. The Financial Times has done a “deep dive” into the reasons why only 23% of Goldman’s 2016 partner class were women, and drawn some interesting conclusions.
The FT suggests that Goldman is actually worse than other banks when it comes to promoting women: it found that only 21% of senior positions at GS are held by women, compared to an average of 24% at 25 other international banks. Goldman is, however, alive to its problem. The firm is making big efforts to promote women in revenue generating divisions like sales, trading and corporate finance, rather than support functions like HR and legal. It’s got mentoring programs. It’s got women’s networks. It’s got an on-site creche.
Helping women up the hierarchy isn’t easy. In the past, Sally Boyle, a partner and international head of human capital management at the firm, says male Goldman line managers, “didn’t really know how to handle” maternity leave. Some male staff complained about the existence of women’s networks (‘Why wasn’t there a men’s one too?’), and even now when Goldman makes senior external hires, men jump while women at other firms are unwilling to risk a move. “Women are more conservative, particularly women who have had their families [while working for their existing employer],” says Heather Mulahasani, a partner in Goldman’s merchant banking division. “They feel some loyalty towards the organisation because they’ve had a couple of maternity leaves. They’ve perhaps got their own little bit of flexibility. They’ve got a manager that understands them.”
Does this mean Goldman should apply a quota to its female promotions? Apparently not. “The worst thing you can do for women is to promote them too early,” says Nishi Somaiya, head of private capital at Goldman. Somaiya was promoted to partner in 2016, after 16 years with the bank. “If the firm was focused on the numbers game women could be promoted too early . . . If you put women in too early [to fill a quota] they will fail,” she declares.
Separately, some hedge fund managers have strange opinions about their pay. Despite all hedge fund managers earning an average of $873k last year, a survey by search firm Options Group found that two thirds of fixed income hedge fund managers were unhappy with their compensation. The problem appears to have been disappointed expectations: some were expecting their pay to triple.
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