Updated Business Principles Codify the Firm’s Commitment to Diversity

Theme: Culture

On October 16, 2001, the firm announces that it has expanded its seventh Business Principle to underscore the importance of building, supporting and leveraging a diverse and inclusive workforce at Goldman Sachs.

In 1989, Goldman Sachs formed the firmwide Diversity Committee to help promote a work environment that would attract and retain the best people and enable them to realize their full potential. The committee’s first mandate was to identify and evaluate existing programs and initiatives related to diversity in Management Development and Training, Employee Relations, Selection Practices, Mentorship, Performance Management, and Communication.

On November 5, 1991, then co-senior partner Robert Rubin and chairman of the firmwide Strategic Planning Committee, Geoffrey Boisi, sent a message to all US employees to report on the firm’s progress and highlight diversity-focused initiatives. The closing lines of their message articulated the firm’s goal in pursuing this effort: “to ensure that Goldman Sachs continues to be a true meritocracy with an atmosphere of professionalism, cooperation and tolerance.”

A decade later, the firm amended the Goldman Sachs Business Principles – which represent the bedrock values and beliefs that have sustained the company over its long history – to highlight the importance of diversity to its success. In a message signed by Hank Paulson, then Chairman and CEO, and the firm’s co-COOs John Thain and John Thornton on October 16, 2001, the firm announced that the seventh Business Principle had been expanded to underscore the importance of building, supporting and leveraging a diverse and inclusive workforce at Goldman Sachs. The revised version (new language bolded), published in the firm’s 2001 Annual Report, reads: 

We offer our people the opportunity to move ahead more rapidly than is possible at most other places. Advancement depends on merit and we have yet to find the limits to the responsibility our best people are able to assume. For us to be successful, our men and women must reflect the diversity of the communities and cultures in which we operate. That means we must attract, retain and motivate people from many backgrounds and perspectives. Being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be.

With a consistent commitment through the years, Goldman Sachs’ efforts around diversity have evolved from raising broader awareness and delivering an array of programs to a more deliberate, targeted and data-driven approach that engenders accountability. The firm’s Global Diversity Committee, which reports directly to CEO David Solomon, is tasked with advancing specific areas, including developing and promoting diverse business leaders, effectively integrating diverse lateral hires, and identifying specific diversity goals and measuring performance against those goals. As an example, Goldman Sachs targets a workforce in which 50 percent of the firm’s global talent is women. As a first step in this process, the firm is working toward having women represent half of its incoming analyst class by 2021.

Goldman Sachs believes that its people have the right to expect a workplace in which the range and richness of their backgrounds and experiences is welcomed and valued. The firm also believes that an environment that not only supports but encourages differences in thought and perspectives can only help it better serve its clients. Adding diversity-specific language to the firm’s iconic Business Principles is just one of many ways Goldman Sachs has demonstrated a commitment to bringing the concept of diversity to life in ways that positively impact the firm, its employees and clients, and society at large.


This article was originally published as part of a series commemorating the 150th anniversary of Goldman Sachs' founding in 1869.