Goldman Sachs Taps Former Bloomberg Executive to Lead Diversity Efforts

By Adedamola Agboola

  • Brown will be tasked to recruit, retain and advance diverse professionals
  • Only 2.6% of executives at Goldman Sachs are black

As one of the world’s largest investment banks, Goldman Sachs (GS +0.79%) is taking a step towards further diversifying its senior ranks with the appointment of Erika Irish Brown as Chief Diversity Officer. Brown happens to be one of the industry’s foremost diversity leaders and brings a wealth of knowledge to the firm from her prior role at Bloomberg.

Why This Matters: For years, Wall Street CEOs have pledged to boost diversity amongst their ranks, this has proven to be a slow process. A 2017 Bloomberg report on the racial makeup at the six biggest U.S. banks from 2012 to 2016, found senior black executives are on the decline.

According to the U.S. workforce data compiled by Bloomberg, black executives only make up about 2.6% of employees at Goldman Sachs, 1.6% at Citigroup (C +0.01%) and 2.6% within JPMorgan (JPM +0.03%), all of these numbers have fallen over the past five years. In addition, this represents a lower percentage of black workers than other industries across corporate America.

Brown has a massive task in front of her to steer the Wall Street titan in the right direction. Reuters reported she will be tasked to recruit, retain and advance diverse professionals, based on an internal memo circulated at the firm.

Goldman Sachs, which didn’t name its first partner until 1986, more than a century after it was founded, does have a higher percent of black executives compared to other investment banks. However, the firm’s overall percentage of black workers grew to only 5.3% from 5.1% over five years.

Situational Awareness: For years, the number of black bankers on Wall Street has been dropping and Goldman Sachs is taking a step to bridge that gap, starting with Brown’s appointment. Brown, who was Bloomberg’s first ever diversity and inclusion officer joins Goldman as part of incoming CEO David Solomon’s overall shake up of the power structure within the company. It is also worth noting that Brown will now become the most senior black executive within Goldman Sachs less than a year after Edith Cooper, the former Head of Human Resources exited the company.

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