Awards for Distinction 2012 – Diversity Issues


Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management

Ronald Lee

Ronald Lee
Managing Director, Private Wealth Management
Goldman Sachs

Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) initiatives are, unfortunately, low on the list of priorities for Asia’s private banks. And yet, as the fight to attract and retain talent intensifies, banks are beginning to realise that being “LGBT-friendly” makes smart business sense. Indeed, innumerable studies have linked supportive hiring and progression policies to increased productivity. Whether driven by business smarts, altruism, or both, those private banks which are actively creating diversity blueprints and articulating how they will nurture and support a diverse work culture, have appropriately commanded the attention of Asian Private Banker.

Accordingly, Asian Private Banker has judged one private bank to be at the forefront of LGBT and diversity initiatives, whether through targeted recruitment drives, supportive maternity and paternity leave policies or increased understanding of same-sex partnerships. This bank has distinguished itself by proactively reaching out to employees in an effort to understand and address individual needs, irrespective of its requirements under local law.

Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management (PWM), the worthy winner of this year’s Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – LGBT & Diversity Issues award, has institutionalised inclusion to the point where diversity is an inextricable element of the bank’s DNA. Myriad on-going initiatives, including its US$100 million 10,000 Women programme aimed at providing “underserved female entrepreneurs” with access to business and management education, have distinguished Goldman Sachs PWM from its peers.

Ron Lee, Head of Private Wealth Management in the region, is also Co-Chair for Diversity in Asia Pacific, steering the firm’s overall diversity strategy. Women are remarkably well-represented on the senior leadership team – over 50% of the managing directors and overall employees at the private bank are female. And while cynics may dismiss diversity initiatives as a “bull-market phenomenon”, Lee has a clear response. “You cannot link spending on diversity to market cycles, it is not a luxury,” he retorts.

Indeed, an excerpt from Goldman Sachs’ Business Principles, which the firm claims to be the foundation of its culture, iterates its commitment to embracing and understanding all people, regardless of culture and sexual orientation, stating “being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be”.