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Morning Coffee: Why it just became more difficult for men to get a job at Goldman Sachs. Doodling to get ahead

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.


Senator Bernie Sanders wants to break up any financial company that has a total exposure of greater than 3% of gross domestic product. The list would only be 10 long, but it would include J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. (CNBC)

If you’re an investment professional looking for work, one interesting job opening just popped up. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is looking for a chief investment officer to manage his $10 billion charitable organization. (Bloomberg)

San Francisco-based hedge fund Criterion Capital Management is closing its doors after 16 years, though the founders seemed to hint at the possibility of a new venture down the road that has more of a long-term view. Criterion’s long portfolio has gained 850% since inception. (WSJ)

HSBC has hired seven senior infrastructure and real estate investment bankers just a few weeks after its board received an anonymous memo from senior dealmakers criticizing the investment bank’s leadership group. (Financial News)

A judge has ruled in favor of a female executive at Commerzbank in London who was unfairly “sidelined” and subjected to derogatory stereotypes after returning from maternity leave. (Financial News)

One-third of male executives have adjusted their behavior at work following the #metoo movement. Career experts worry that some men are “overcorrecting,” and are now leaving women out of business discussions and mentoring opportunities. (Bloomberg)

Crypto currency exchange Coinbase has lost the head of its institutional business. Adam White’s departure is significant as he was pushing Coinbase to hire traditional bankers as the exchange rolls out its institutional sales model in New York. (Bloomberg)

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AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor
  • An
    25 October 2018

    "Shitty analysts bitching" - hmmm, imagine a male said that about females. Double standards and false accusations are part of the problem around gender debates.
    How many employees were in each of the last three companies you worked for? Sorry, but if you're saying that you've only come across a total of three women in your time in investment banking then I don't believe you. What is your evidence that most women in finance don't subscribe to #Metoo? In my experience, banks are actively increasing the number of females in management roles, in some cases ensuring that they're filled by female candidates, especially in middle to middle-senior level positions.
    What D-Sol is proposing here is hiring which is not done on the basis of merit, but where females would have double the chance of being successful in applying for a position purely because of their gender. Argue in support of this if you like, but try to do so credibly and look at your own biases.

  • Ja
    23 October 2018

    Lol at all the shitty analysts bitching in the comments.

    Reality is that even when 1/3 of qualified applications are female, way less than a 3rd of employees actually are.Yes I am a female. Actually I have been the only female in the last 3 companies I worked in. I've been the only female that's not a secretary in practically every hedge fund meetings I've been to. Investment banks fair a little better with me coming across a whooping total of 3 women at those positions in my lifetime. Having been at the other end of the hiring process, there is a single disgusting trend at the core: Once you are no longer at a junior role, the likelyhood of you getting hired as a woman crashes. It not because of "#Metoo" (which let's be frank, most women in finance don't subscribe to), its because there is a bias against (1) women being anything more than in a supporting role, and (2) women being child bearers.

    Hire on merit, but remove the biases.

  • An
    7 October 2018

    Re, the article on male executives adjusting their behaviour, one of the negative impacts of #metoo is that it has created a climate of fear, and a lot of males are afraid of interacting with females (to the point as the article says, where they are afraid to share a lift) due to very real concerns over being accused (often wrongly) of sexual harassment. They are afraid that, under the banner of 'taking accusations seriously, everything their accuser says will automatically be taken as truth and they will not receive due process. There are a lot of HR departments who will use accusations of sexual harassment to sexually harass men. What is described as 'overcorrecting' is understandable, but should be addressed, and to do this men and women need to work together to rebuild trust so that men can have some confidence that they can interact with women without being wrongly accused of harassment, and that where accusations are made they are investigated proportionately and fairly. While everyone should speak out against sexual harassment, this should include false accusations of sexual harassment, which are themselves a form of sexual harassment. HR need to do a lot more and a lot better here, otherwise the problem will get worse.

  • An
    5 October 2018

    Goldmans should hire proportionally according to the number of applicants. What D-Sol is proposing is gender discrimination and is probably not legal in most of Europe. By all means look at why more men than women are applying for graduate roles, but don't artificially boost female numbers by discriminating against men. Also, the culture in investment banking needs to change - there is no point in replacing alpha males with alpha females, that won't remove the problems in the industry. What's the evidence behind the statement that men occupy the vast majority of leadership positions in banking - what definition of 'leadership' is being used?

  • pa
    5 October 2018

    why cant they just hire on the basis of merit?

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