Perspectives and Advice from Two Goldman Sachs LGBT+ Leaders

17 JUN 2020

Goldman Sachs' Susie Scher and Stephanie Tan were named to two inaugural lists recognizing LGBT+ leaders: Crain’s New York Business 2020 Notable LGBTQ Leaders & Executives, and Fast Company’s Queer 50, respectively.  We congratulate Susie and Stephanie on these recognitions and had a chance to ask them a few questions.

Susie is co-head of the Global Financing Group in the Investment Banking Division and Stephanie is chief information security officer and head of Technology Risk for the firm's Consumer and Investment Management business.

How are you observing the 50th Anniversary of LGBT+ Pride Month at home? 

Susie: It is odd to be at home for Pride. I am a social person and I have lots of friends, so I usually celebrate Pride by going to a handful of small Pride events. Two of my best friends (a 10+ years married lesbian couple) have this awesome Pride barbecue in their backyard in Brooklyn.  It was in my calendar for June 4 this year – I just noticed it last week and it made me sad.  Some of our best friends were even going to come from LA. So this year – hmmmmm – you have me thinking. I will definitely celebrate with my family.  I have four kids – 8, 11, 18 and 19 years old – and they are all activists. So, I’m thinking: 

  • I will order a bunch of rainbow stuff on Amazon and have a socially distanced Pride party with the six of us and my friends who usually host the BBQ and their three boys (we have recently started seeing them again and it has been amazing).
  • You gave me an idea – I’m going to host a Zoom Pride call with the LGBT+ folks in the Investment Banking Division.
  • I think Allison and I will do an LGBT+ TV week. We have been doing a ton of family movie nights with the kids so this could be the continuation of the theme. Coincidentally, I recently had the honor to have been paired as a sponsor – through the new Launch With GS Black and Latinx Entrepreneur Cohort – with Revry, the world’s first LGBT+ Global Streaming TV Network. Revry’s founders are four friends who are LGBT+, Latinx, Black, men and women (and many more things including Army Vet, Nurse, Lawyer and Producer). I met them on Zoom the other day and am obsessed.

Stephanie: Pride Month has always been my favorite time of year, because it’s summer with lots of fun social events and a commemoration of the LGBT+ rights movement. My favorite memories are celebrating with my all-women rugby team, which had many gay and transgender women, because we would travel every weekend in June to various competitions on the east coast trying to align the schedule with that city’s Pride march.This is the most unusual year, and when quarantine started months ago, I hoped Pride would not be impacted. It is worth celebrating that the Supreme Court upheld that LGBT+ people are legally protected and cannot be fired from their jobs for being LGBT+, but also remembering the fight for equal rights must continue because we took a step back a few days before this Supreme Court ruling and have lost transgender healthcare protections. Advocacy and visibility for our community is of critical importance. With recent news, I will instead observe with:

  • Visiting Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, NYC with a nice curbside cocktail. It means so much to visit during Pride Month as it was the site of the Stonewall riots against police brutality and oppression that helped launch a movement to promote rights for the LGBT community.
  •  Small picnics with friends sharing homemade baked goods. This past weekend, my partner and I baked 36-hour chocolate chip cookies. It’s a special recipe that requires the dough to rest for 36 hours and chocolate to be chopped in order to ensure perfect chew to crisp ratio.

Pride is occurring during a time when there are protests across the country. Remembering that Pride is rooted in the protesting of inequality, can you share your thoughts about the importance of advocacy and our duty to support and create systemic change? 

Susie: I have been thinking a lot about the intersection of Black and LGBT+ and the extreme marginalization of and discrimination against members of that community. Allyship has been so important to the LGBT+ community in general.  But there has been – for a long time – a real separation between members of the white LGBT+ community and the Black and Latinx community, because people of color have not felt included in the LGBT+ agenda, have felt marginalized within our community, and many of their key contributions to LGBT+ history have been diminished or overlooked.This gap can also be attributed to socioeconomic disparities within the community at large especially within other groups in the LGBT+ spectrum. I want to recommit to being an ally within the LGBT+ community for Black people.

As a first step, I’m thinking about a donation to The Center – one of the LGBT+ non-profits in NYC that I support – specifically for this purpose, as their mission is rooted in advocacy and provides services and programming in response to the LGBT+ community’s evolving needs. My first out gay friend (when I first came out) was in my analyst class in 1986. He is Black. We were both deep in the closet.  And we both felt the emotional stress of hiding our gayness every day at work and we lived with fear of being found out. In fact, I allowed a narrative to form that he was my boyfriend (I didn’t specifically say that, but it was assumed).  That, of course, was also controversial. We spent a ton of time together in NYC – going to gay bars and restaurants that were “known” to be gay-friendly, shopping, etc. I think it was the first time I really understood the privilege that my white skin afforded me and the micro-inequities that he faced every day – from being unable to hail a cab to being followed by a security guard in a clothing store, to the restaurant host always speaking to me first. The racism experienced by my BFF far outweighed the homophobia we felt, and for him, it was a one-two punch. It is hard to believe that was 30 years ago and that so little has changed. This continues to compel me to be a visible out ally. I/We need to do more.

Stephanie: Throughout my career, I do my best to be a visible and active ally to three communities: Asian, LGBT+, woman in technology. However, recent events are a wake-up call that we cannot prioritize one of our identities over the others, or we risk leaving some behind while some move forward. For example, I am happy to see forward progress in rights for the LGBT+ community but disappointed about the step back on transgender healthcare protection. Let us not forget that half a century ago, the Stonewall riots launched the LGBT+ rights movement.

The LGBT+ rights movement has made a lot of progress but still has a long journey ahead. Given the long history of racial injustice and the likes of the Black Lives Matter movement, I can only imagine the magnitude of change required to create systemic change and the amount of advocacy we all need to contribute now, not when it’s too late. For me, I will start by contributing to increased partnerships within the Firmwide LGBT Network, Firmwide Black Network, and Firmwide Hispanic/Latino Network.

Susie, what advice would you give to LGBT+ persons who are just starting out in their careers, particularly LGBT+ women? 

Susie: Be out, be bold, embrace your difference. Find allies – there are tons of them at Goldman Sachs and they make a great network of mentors and sponsors. Pay it forward as you succeed – to the LGBT+ community and to other diverse communities.

Stephanie, what advice would you give to LGBT+ allies, so they can best support their LGBT+ colleagues?

Stephanie: Be a visible ally. Think about what that means for you. It can start with self-education, understanding your own bias, speaking up for diverse colleagues by acting as a mentor, and/or creating opportunities to promote accomplishments of others. You can contribute to diversity and inclusion initiatives, rally people to do more, and join us at many of the Goldman Sachs-sponsored diversity events! 

What does the Goldman Sachs LGBT+ community mean to you?  

Susie: I have an incredible feeling of Pride when I think about the Goldman Sachs LGBT+ community. I first came out at Goldman Sachs 20 years ago when there were very few out people at Goldman Sachs or anywhere on Wall Street. Goldman Sachs was the leader among major financial institutions in first acknowledging and then embracing LGBT+ employees. Over the past decade, the Goldman Sachs LGBT+ community has made this happen. I often meet newer members of the community – when they first join or especially when they first come out. It is really amazing to be able to connect with people in this way.

Stephanie: Three years ago, I moved to New York City from Washington, DC to join Goldman Sachs. I left a lifetime of friends and family behind for the opportunity to be part of growing Marcus. The first two friends I made were in the Goldman Sachs LGBT+ community, and they reached out to me on my first day. The Goldman Sachs LGBT+ community has been warm and welcoming. I am proud to be part of it and want to contribute in any way possible, even if that just means I am carrying boxes for an event for Lesbians Who Tech, an organization which the firm sponsors.