Awards for Distinction 2013 – Diversity Issues

AFD2013_Best Private Bank - LGBT & Diversity Issues

Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management

Ronald S. Lee

Ronald S. Lee
Head of Private Wealth Management
Goldman Sachs

Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) and Diversity initiatives are, unfortunately, not very high on the list of priorities for many private banks in Asia. However, while a fair and respectful work environment is essential for any business, in a service industry it takes on far greater significance. Innumerable studies have linked a fulfilling work environment and supportive hiring and progression policies to increased productivity. For these and more altruistic reasons, a number of private banks in Asia are creating diversity blueprints that articulate how their organisations will support a diverse work culture.

One private bank has distinguished itself by proactively reaching out to employees and trying to understand and address their needs regardless of whether the local law compelled it to do so.

The deserved winner of this year’s Award for Distinction, Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management (PWM) has institutionalised inclusion and made a concerted, firm-wide commitment to making diversity a part of its corporate DNA. The dedication to the cause most certainly percolates from the firm’s most senior leaders – Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, joined 24 other business leaders in signing a historic letter of support urging New York State to enact marriage equality legislation. The legislature subsequently passed the Marriage Equality Act in June 2011, presenting Goldman Sachs, not only as a champion of LGBT rights within the firm, but also in the public eye.

Not surprisingly then, although all employees at the bank are required to complete at least two hours of diversity training each year, the majority of them average four hours or more.

In particular, the bank’s private wealth management business in Asia has led the charge from the frontline, spearheading many of its diversity initiatives. Ronald Lee, Head of PWM in Asia Pacific, is also Co-Chair for Diversity in the region, steering the firm’s overall diversity strategy. Nick Yim, Head of the Greater China business for PWM, is on the board of advisors of the Hong Kong Women’s Network. Mary Anne Choo, a Managing Director on the PWM team is a member of the firm wide Diversity Committee. Women are also well-represented on the senior leadership team – over 50% of the managing directors and overall employees at the private bank in Asia are women.

An excerpt from its Business Principles, which the firm claims is the foundation of its culture, explicitly reiterates its commitment to embracing and understanding all people, regardless of cultural and sexual orientation – “Being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be”.