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Why it is that women love J.P. Morgan more than Goldman Sachs

Women like big name banks. When asked which large firms they wanted to work for, in our annual survey of employers, women gave banks four of the five top slots. In fact, in the entire top ten, Google was the only non-traditional choice. The tech giant aside, there were six banks, two professional services firms, and an asset manager.

Of course, this is not the whole story. You might expect Goldman to be number one as it’s widely seen as the industry leader and has big name recognition. However, J.P. Morgan is sitting in the top spot. So what does this tell us?

Well, for starters there isn’t much in it. Competition for the no.1 slot was a close run thing. But when you look at the data, you see that Goldman does very well on, “headline,” attributes such as being an industry leader, offering a competitive salary and proving challenging work.

However, J.P. Morgan beats Goldman in a number of areas. It is seen as having a more positive organisational culture – and around 80% of women at both banks think this is important. It is viewed as offering better training and development – and, again scores highly for importance. Perhaps surprisingly, Goldman is seen as weaker when it comes to bonuses. Finally, although neither bank shines when it comes to flexible working or corporate citizenship, J.P. Morgan edges Goldman in both categories.

This is becoming something of a theme in these surveys. Banks tend not to shine when it comes the soft stuff (corporate social responsibility, flexible working, office environment, values, etc.) but employees increasingly see these areas as important – and women tend to see them as more important than men. Given that addressing these issues is often relatively easy and inexpensive, banks may well be missing a trick here, especially as employers fight to attract the best female talent.

Moving on, and the only company on this list that really sticks is Google. Its position here is indicative of several trends. One is that tech has become a genuine alternative to finance and professional services. Where once the best staff looked to the City and Wall street, now they’re considering Kings Cross and Silicon Valley.

Google is still the only tech firm in the top ten but, further down, there are others such as Amazon. So this may be the shape of things to come. In the way that many professions lost the best graduates to finance in the 00s, it may be that finance starts to lose stars to tech.

Google is interesting for other reasons too. It doesn’t score well on salary, but it’s a real stand-out in areas like promotion and training. It also does vastly better than the top two in terms of office environment and corporate culture – and this points to another factor. It’s true that working for Google is very demanding – but there’s an element of fun and creativity that no bank can match.

Finally, and perhaps rather bafflingly, Google scores quite poor on being an industry leader. As the only company on the list whose name has become a verb like “Hoover” this seems a little unfair.

Let’s move a little further down. UBS and Citi don’t do as well on the big numbers. But they are both good (or at least good by the standards of the sector) when it comes to flexible working options and corporate citizenship. HSBC scores well here too. Interestingly, BlackRock is notably lacking when comes to diversity with only a quarter of respondents viewing it as a strength of the company.

There are a few other interesting points too. One is that no firm is seen as hugely innovative or hugely lacking when it comes to innovation. The spread is small – between 61% and 76% with the majority clustered around 70%. There are a few factors like this: challenging work is another. For women, they appear to be non-differentiators. All firms do about the same.

There are some rather depressing surprises too. Less than half of women at JP Morgan attached much importance to opportunities for promotion. In fact almost twice as many said that perks such gym membership were important to them. This likely points to a grubby little secret. JP Morgan Limited has the lowest number of women in its top pay quartile and the highest number in the bottom. So perhaps the reason women don’t attach much importance to promotion is because they don’t expect to be promoted.

However, in JP Morgan’s defence it is still where women want to work most, so it must be doing something right. This apparent paradox may point to the heart of how women view working in financial services and associated industries. No one company gets it all right. Rather they all have faults. They are all traditionally male industries – and they all have a long way to go when it comes to being truly equal workplaces.

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AUTHORRhymer Rigby Insider Comment

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