As Goldman Sachs goes all-out for women on the trading floor, it's doing more than offering a 'taster year'

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Goldman Sachs women trading floor

If you're a young woman and you think you might want to be a trader but you aren't totally sure, then Goldman Sachs has something special for you. Under Jim Esposito, the global co-head of sales and trading, it's offering a new trading 'taster year' for women who join its securities division. - They can try trading for a year, and if doesn't work out, they can move into a new area, no questions asked. 

Esposito told Financial News that young women wanted to try trading but were scared of failing: "[they] feared if they were not good at it, then they would be out of a job." Thanks to the new program, he said the recruitment of women into analyst-level trading roles is up 140% year-on-year and that women account for 50% of this year's trading analysts. 

The taster year isn't Goldman's only initiative aimed at getting women into trading. The firm also runs 'Female Trader Initiative' mentor groups, comprised of traders from analyst to managing director level, who are there to give its young female traders advice. Last year, it also ran two female trader academies in London, for over 40 participants. 

The initiative to get young women onto the trading floor also comes as Goldman Sachs is offering free coding lessons to its female analysts aged 26 and under. The firm is pushing hard to be more diverse under CEO David Solomon.

As we've reported widely in the past, all banks - not just Goldman - have a tendency to hire women into sales roles rather than into trading. Historically, there's been a noticeable tendency for the industry to recruit attractive young women into client-facing roles where they will deal with (often older male) buy-side clients. "You get a lot of beautiful young women in banking who find themselves replaced by a new generation as they get older. I've seen older women being made to hand their accounts to 22 year-olds," one woman told us last year. "They complain, but they were in that position once - they were the 22 year-old who took another woman's clients. Women don't help each other."

Goldman's initiatives look like an admirable attempt to break this cycle. However, some young men may query why they're not getting the same treatment. - Esposito himself (a man) said he went into sales because he he was also, "too afraid” to select trading as a young person. “I took the job where I knew I wouldn’t fail," he told Financial News. The implication is that it's not just women who self-select out of trading jobs, it's also men who lack confidence in their own abilities. Young Esposito could probably have benefitted from a trading trial and some mentoring too.

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