Q&A with Adrian Jones, Goldman Sachs’ Disability Network Sponsor

In this Q&A, we catch up with Adrian Jones, sponsor of the Goldman Sachs Disability Network who shares a bit about his background and career path, goals for the Network and how the firm is recognizing Disability Awareness Month. 

Tell us a little about yourself, your career path, and interests?

I am in my 28th year at Goldman, having started in the early days of the Technology, Telecom and Media (TMT) Group in the Investment Banking Division in New York. I moved to what was then Principal Investment Area (PIA) in Europe in the late 90’s, and have loved private equity investing ever since. I returned 20 years ago to New York, and I now chair our Global Equity Business in the Asset Management Division, co-leading our business with Stephanie Hui, Brad Gross and Scott Lebovitz, three colleagues with whom I have now worked for two decades. In a business model that is unique to Goldman, we raise investment funds in which the firm, our colleagues and our clients invest together, harnessing Goldman’s global network and collaborative culture to both source differentiated investment opportunities and generate a competitive edge.

In 2001, my then 2-year-old son, Liam, was diagnosed with autism, as now happens to 1 in 54 children in the US, 1 in 34 boys. Since then, I have been involved in funding autism research, and driving awareness and advocacy to support the autism community. I am currently Vice Chairman of Autism Speaks, having served on the Board since its inception, 16 years ago. Recently, we announced that Keith Wargo, a former Goldman colleague, is joining us as our next CEO!

For those unfamiliar with the Disability Network, how would you describe the role of this Network and how has it helped our people?

The Disability Network is a community of employees who either have a disability themselves, manage an employee with a disability, or act as a caretaker outside of work for someone with a disability. We tailor our programing and resources to serve all three groups. We also work with our Human Capital Management Division – more specifically our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Wellness teams – on increasing awareness and allyship for people with disabilities (PWD) within the broader Goldman population, and on growing our PWD population through targeted recruiting efforts such as the Neurodiversity Hiring Initiative. Ultimately, our goal is to make the firm a global leader in attracting talented professionals with a disability, who will know they can succeed here in a culture based on inclusion and fairness.

How is the firm recognizing Disability Awareness Month?

This year’s Disability Awareness Month, themed “Celebrating the Spectrum of Difference”, will offer a series of virtual events highlighting how our differences – be they visible or invisible disabilities – can create individual strengths, resilience and tenacity. The Disability Network will sponsor a conversation with Dr. Daryaneh Badaly from Child Mind Institute on navigating the back-to-school-transition and its impact on children, a panel discussion featuring Paralympic athletes across the globe, and a discussion with former Utah Jazz player Joe Ingles and his wife Ranae Ingles on their experience as the parents of a child with autism. In addition, we are hoping to offer a session on racial disparity in the field of mental health.

Looking beyond Disability Awareness Month, what are some key objectives of the Network in 2021?

We have an ambitious agenda for 2021 and beyond, with the support of firm leadership and a core focus on three priorities. First is to foster and sustain an inclusive environment that enhances the experience of our colleagues with disabilities or caretaker responsibilities. Second is to broaden and deepen partnerships with external organizations in order to enhance community engagement and strengthen our brand as an employer of choice for those with disabilities. Third is to ensure our infrastructure meets their needs, and to advocate with Goldman leadership as required on this and other issues.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to contribute to these efforts or get involved?

The Disability Network is only as strong as the contributions of its membership and so we are always looking for others to join us. This summer, I asked 20 senior leaders across the Americas to become Disability Champions in their respective Divisions, and all of them immediately agreed. We have regional leadership globally, so a good starting point would be to join your local chapter of the Disability Network, and to become familiar with the programming and the Wellness resources offered. For specific ideas and actions, our chapter leads are always eager to connect and learn more about peoples’ stories or ways the Network can continue to do to improve our effectiveness. A couple of recent examples include working with Wellness to procure clear masks for a new joiner and their team to accommodate their need to lip read, and enabling live zoom captioning and transcripts for key sessions/events.

How is the Disability Network engaging with clients at the firm? Are there any specific initiatives that our candidates should know about when considering applying to the firm?

The members of our Network are part of a community that extends beyond the 4 walls of Goldman.  Addressing Disability is both a challenge and an opportunity for every one of our clients, and Goldman can be an invaluable resource to them, while deepening our relationships around shared goals. We will often invite clients to join our hosted events, both virtual and in-person. One particularly memorable recent example was an intimate discussion over breakfast for a group of Private Wealth Management clients with Temple Grandin, a world-renowned scientist and advocate for the autism community who also happens to have autism, before she spoke to an auditorium packed with our colleagues.  

Prospective colleagues should know that the Network is constantly looking to provide additional resources to our employees. Although I have highlighted a few events here, this is an ongoing and very dynamic effort, with constant variety in programming. As we speak, we are in the midst of October Disability Awareness month, where we will span from the mental health challenges of returning to school post COVID to the life of a Paralympian with physical disabilities.

What has been the best, or most impactful, part of being involved with the Network?

One of the challenges of living with disabilities, either directly or as a caretaker, is a pervasive sense of isolation. The Network is a reminder that you are not alone, and that many others are dealing with similar challenges. Change anywhere only comes when people join together with a shared objective. E Pluribus Unum. And when colleagues at Goldman come together in common cause, it is always energizing to see what that combination of talent, training and culture can accomplish.

Ultimately, as with every other pillar of diversity, this is about fairness.