After having read about how happy Goldman Sachs employees are, I came across an article that asked Why are Goldman's Women Invisible (Asks a Former Goldman Sachs Partner) written by Jacki Zehner in The Huffington Post, October 2008. I looked up the top GS employees to see how many women were in the company. I estimate only 6% to 9% of the top positions in GS are held by women. Of the list of 18 Officers and Directors listed in Wickipedia, only 4 were women --less than 5%.
Ms. Zehner says that when she became a partner, it was a partnership for women partners not a partnership of the full GS Club. The women tended to mentor and support each other. According to her, the women were invisible, their contributions unacknowledged; their numbers few, and their inclusion in the boys' club not encouraged.
Ms. Zehner says,
And what an opportunity missed for Goldman? Did someone call them and say "tell us about all your incredible alumni" and they said either here they are, fifty men, or sorry we do not comment on our people? Goldman, maybe it is time to comment. They missed the opportunity to tell the world about Ann, Connie, Mary Ann, Nomi, Lawton, Mary, Leslie, Amy... and well, me. There are so many great women in the world and over and over again we have opportunities to make them visible, and we do not.
The lesson here? Our society does not merely fail to develop, reward, retain, and lift up women leaders, we have done the opposite. We perpetuate their invisibility. As Marie Wilson has said over and over again, "You cannot be what you cannot see" and we do not see women leaders, especially on Wall Street.
Might this be one of many factors contributing to what is wrong with Wall Street leadership today? Arguably at this moment of financial and economic crisis, after approximately $10 trillion dollars of global wealth has vanished, women remain virtually absent at the decision-making tables that count. For all those men who sat around thinking they were the smartest guys in the room, is it not time to ask "what could we have done differently?" Could the difference possibly have been a critical mass of women? We will never know. Sure you can name a couple of women, but that is just it, a couple? It takes critical mass to know what women's presence and leadership looks and feels like, and we could sure use that data right about now. Don't call Goldman looking for that information though as they do not have it.
Read the full article here
Further, she questions whether or not GS is proud of the women at the firm. She even suggests that having only a few women as leaders in the financial industry may be what's wrong with Wall Street during this crisis. Women who have great leadership skills, some of which may be different from men's skills, can add important facets to leadership.
Ms. Zehner talks above about “creating critical mass that will change the face of leadership.” She is commenting on an article in Bloomberg Market magazine written about GS's move to become a bank holding company and the employees who played a part. The article, she explains, did not mention one important group at GS: the women.
I also came across another article that discusses Why Women Are Fleeing Wall Street. According to Kyle Stock, there has been a 2.6% reduction of female workers in finance while there has been a 9.5% expansion of men in the industry. Various reasons are explored about why this might be so.
I think one of the most important reasons is that women care about integrity, and firms like GS, who have mightily tarnished their integrity, do not make the grade.
There are three women who have impressed me with their integrity with regards to the ongoing financial crisis. They are, first, Brooksley Born who in the late 1990s as chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission wrote a paper warning about the derivatives market and suggesting regulation to prevent a financial crisis. She was overruled by the Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin (26 years at Goldman Sachs), his deputy Larry Summers and SEC chairman, Arthur Levitt all of whom made her life miserable and finally forced her to leave her regulatory job;
Second, Ellen Brown, a researcher and attorney, who wrote “Web of Debt”, an analysis of the Federal Reserve, and who has written many articles about the influence of corruption in the financial system;
Third, Janet Tavakoli who has written many books about CDOs, the credit rating agencies and financial risks and rewards.
Woman of Integrity all!