Goldman Sachs just "ticking boxes" with diversity pledge

One female board member cannot be considered a "winning result", say industry experts

Goldman Sachs has been accused of "box-ticking" and not doing enough to promote more diversity at boardroom level by tech industry experts, in response to its diversity-driven IPO incentive. 

The company's CEO David Soloman told CNBC that starting on 1 July, the company will not take any US or European company public unless it has at least one diverse candidate at board level.

Although Charlotte Crosswell, the CEO of Innovate Finance, welcomed the initial step, she said it wasn't enough and warned it could just be a "box-ticking exercise".

"One female board member cannot be considered a winning result," she told IT Pro. "With women only making up 17% of founders in the UK FinTech sector, we need to be doing far more to ensure that female inclusion on boards is not simply a box-ticking exercise. Instead, we need organisations to prioritise diversity and an inclusive workforce, to ensure it is driven throughout all parts of the companies"

Soloman did suggest that it would move toward requesting at least two diverse board members by 2021 and also highlighted the success of having a woman at the boardroom level. He said that the performance of IPOs where there has been a woman on the board in the US has been significantly better than the IPOs where there wasn't. 

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The tech industry has often faced criticism around the troubling disparity between male and females workers, according to Russ Shaw, the founder of Tech London Advocates, not to mention the minimal efforts to bring in talent from diverse backgrounds. "We must not let rhetoric become more prevalent than meaningful action," Shaw told IT Pro. "Goldman Sachs commitment to diverse start-ups is an admirable step from a global company to catalyse change but must go beyond words and translate into results. "Tech London Advocates has continuously been at the forefront of this push. Our Road to One Million campaign calls out for entrepreneurs, investors, government bodies and tech experts to bring more diverse talent and ideas to a sector that is integral to UK growth. For the UK to continue creating world-beating tech companies, we need the best talent, which has diversity at its core."

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