This Goldman Sachs executive wants companies to go beyond the performative alliance

  • Goldman Sachs is hosting its second annual HBCU Market Madness initiative on Wednesday.
  • CEO David Solomon is a contest mentor and judge.
  • In an Equity Talk, Megan Hogan explains how the company hopes to impact HBCUs.

Dozens of big corporations donated millions to often underfunded historically black colleges and universities in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. But Megan Hogan, director of diversity at Goldman Sachs, wanted the financial institution to dig deeper than just writing a check.

“There was a lot of lyrics for HBCUs, and we wanted to do more,” Hogan told Insider. “Accountability cannot only be tied to our own diversity goals, it must also be external.”

Although the company has had a relationship with HBCUs for more than 20 years, Hogan, Goldman CEO David Solomon, and other leaders are trying to forge lasting relationships with HBCU students and leaders. For Hogan, it’s about avoiding one-off, superficial actions and creating a cohesive ally.

On Wednesday, the company kicks off its second annual HBCU Market Madness contest. In addition to a $25 million grant to various HBCUs, Goldman is offering 23 HBCU student finalists from colleges such as Howard University, Spelman College, and Florida A&M University the opportunity to present their case study at Solomon and other executives. The 23 student finalists, selected from a pool of more than 100, will present business advice to Goldman client PepsiCo and may be used in actual business plans given to the agribusiness company. Winners will receive scholarships for their respective colleges for a total of up to $1 million between all students, which is part of the $25 million commitment. The amount given to each student is to be determined, according to Goldman Sachs.

“Investing in the next generation of talent is one of our top priorities because we know that having a more diverse workforce makes Goldman Sachs stronger,” said Goldman Chairman and CEO David Solomon. “We still have a long way to go, but we are making progress through programs like Market Madness: HBCU Opportunities that drive results for students, their institutions, and their communities.”

Goldman also pairs the 100 participating students with bank executives for a 12-week program on the fundamentals of the analyst profession. Some will even have opportunities to join the company in the form of internships, a company spokesperson said.

Hogan co-created the HBCU Market Madness initiative with Erica Coleman, diversity recruiting manager at Goldman. Hogan served as the company’s vice president and general manager for five years, before taking her role in April 2021. The program is one of several initiatives the company has underway to meet internal diversity goals. Goldman met or exceeded its 2019 goals for on-campus recruits in 2020 and welcomed its most diverse class of CEOs in company history in 2021.

On the latest episode of The Equity Talk, Hogan talked about the impact she and Solomon hope to create, and why being intentional about change in the

banking industry

is paramount.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How do you hope Goldman’s HBCU Market Madness competition will directly impact participating HBCUs and the broader communities they serve?

We are very focused on those students applying for internships and full-time positions with the firm. I think we’re really proud of the fact that 21 of the students from last year’s cohort received offers to work with the company and will be working with us this summer. We hope to see this number increase year by year.

We also know that HBCUs are historically underfunded for the most part compared to endowments at peer institutions across the United States. So I think the financial impact is there. And then I think, third, it’s really about these students as ambassadors for Goldman.

We saw a wave of donations to HBCUs over the past two years, but how is this initiative different? And how do you measure the impact?

I think we are going beyond just providing financial capital. We also share the intellectual capital of Goldman Sachs. More than just a check, our executives invest a lot of time with these students.

Goldman has played a significant role in setting industry standards for diversity, particularly with board diversity requirements, to take a company public. Tell me about the importance of intentionality in creating change.

David and our leadership team really think about the triangulation of our purpose, accountability and transparency. It is not enough to do each of these elements in a vacuum. It was really important to set goals, to take responsibility, to diversify the boards of directors of companies that are listed on the stock market. We make sure that our customers, our shareholders, future Goldman Sachs recruits and the general public understand what we were doing. We just didn’t set any targets, we were also very public and transparent with them.

We have just witnessed a historic moment in the history of the United States with the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. This was partly the result of President Joe Biden saying he would appoint a black woman to the position. How can CEOs take note of leading with intention?

President Biden was an incredible example of what it means to be clear about your DEI goals and take people on the journey. I think CEOs can learn a lot from this. It’s like David enacting our requirement for diversity on the board, with his stated goal of increasing diversity at Goldman Sachs. We have also been very transparent in our progress. So we continue to double down on the message that transparency matters and accountability matters.

As for Ketanji Brown Jackson, it’s also about debunking the myth that there are no diverse talents. There is no shortage of pipeline. I can tell you that as someone who myself was a lawyer for eight years before coming to Goldman, I was surrounded by Ketanji Brown Jacksons; brilliant black women who ran their law firms and voluntary organizations as judges as well as in the lower courts. She is an example of being one of the first, but she certainly won’t be the last.

The banking industry has a long and complicated history with racism. How do you avoid performative diversity?

I’m really proud that Goldman put a lot of time and investment into our Black Womenomics Report, which looked at the 90% pay gap between black women and white men. We looked at factors from morbidity rates for black women and lack of childcare to rising costs of education, lack of opportunities and difficulty getting loans for small businesses. We did a lot of research and our conversations could definitely have ended there.

But we didn’t, we appropriated that to say we wanted to use our intellectual and financial capital to be part of the solution. Last year, we launched our One Million Black Women initiative, which is a $10 billion investment initiative and $100 million philanthropic investment to address all of these challenges for the life cycle of women. black and to reduce this equity gap.

From a personal perspective, it was important to me because, quite frankly, I think there’s a narrative in the mainstream that black women should constantly be martyred. And I don’t think that’s fair.

My mom worked two jobs to get me through private school and college. It was great that she took on that burden because that’s obviously how I got to where I am, but she shouldn’t have made such great sacrifices to get there. Society should provide black women with more opportunities. And what Goldman is doing to narrow that equity gap is we’re not just in check mode, we’re trying to solve big challenges in society.

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