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The Global Diversity Imperative at Goldman Sachs

By Melissa J. Anderson

“The majority of my efforts pertain to responding to the firm’s goals of attracting, retaining, and promoting diverse talent,” said Aynesh Johnson, Head of the Office of Global Leadership and Diversity at Goldman Sachs.

With the people of Goldman Sachs being one of the most important assets of the firm, Johnson’s team is tasked with taking the firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts to the next level, and, she said, diversity is viewed as a strategic business priority at the firm. “We’re very focused on our brand and our reputation,” she said. “We want to be viewed as a compelling place for top talent to come to work.”

She explained, “There’s a war for talent – we need to be able to bring the best and brightest to the forefront to provide the right solutions for our clients.”

Global and Local Human Capital Strategy

According to Johnson, the war for talent is global. She said, “Where is the next level of growth in terms of GDP? China, India, and Brazil. How we manage diversity globally is a corporate imperative – how to make sure we are managing diversity in a way that ensures we are successful in the growth markets [is a key area of focus].”

“This is an exciting and energetic time to be in the diversity and inclusion space,” she continued. “The talent overlay is global.”

She continued, “As we expand our global footprint, we need to act locally. We have a global team with individual regional leadership. How we define diversity morphs as we move around the globe.”

Global Diversity and Talent Retention Programs

Johnson mentioned some of the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, including 10,000 Women and 10,000 Small Businesses, which have the goal of improving the business acumen of small business owners across the US and in developing markets, and providing job creation.

Another initiative Goldman is well known for is its Returnship program, which is a ten-week internship for women who have been out of the workforce for over 2 years. “They have the potential to find full time opportunities if they are the right fit,” she said. The program was launched first in Goldman’s New York headquarters, but it is now global with programs in Hong Kong, Singapore and Salt Lake City.

“You have the opportunity to make different choices and still be successful,” Johnson explained.

Johnson began her career as an analyst at Goldman Sachs. After receiving her MBA from Harvard Business School, she returned to the firm as a corporate finance and M&A strategic advisor, and then moved into the diversity and inclusion space. “I still have clients,” she explained. “I still analyze data and deliver strategy. But now my clients are internal. And internal clients’ needs are just as important as the firm’s external clients,” she said.

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