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Goldman Sachs uses data to help improve bank’s diversity, Cooper says

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DURING the decade Edith Cooper, one of Wall Street’s most powerful black women, led human resources at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the firm focused more on data to help increase diversity.

“For us, a real game changer was to pause and step back and say, ‘What have we done and how are we doing to measure impact?’” Cooper, who was in Goldman Sachs’s human resources department and a member of the bank’s management team, said on a panel Thursday. “We really started to understand that we really had to get under the hood and look at the data.”

Goldman Sachs, like other financial-services companies, has said publicly that having a diverse work force is a priority. A lack of diversity at the bank shows the challenge businesses are facing in hiring and retaining a base of employees that more closely resembles the US population.

Women at Goldman Sachs made up 38% of US workers in 2016, according to data from the company. That’s up from 36% in 2011. None of the nation’s largest banks has ever had a female chief executive officer.

Black employment among the firm’s US work force rose slightly to 5.3% in 2016 from 5% in 2011. The percentage of Hispanic employees rose to 7.4% in 2016 from 5% in 2011, according to Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sachs puts an emphasis on data that show how white managers and leaders impact the experiences of minority employees, Cooper said at the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit. Millennials are also helping top management make changes by “holding us accountable,” she said.

Cooper stepped down as head of human resources at yearend and joined the board of Slack Technologies Inc. last month.

“We also have to be really honest with ourselves about the cultural things that make it harder for us or easier for others,” Cooper said to an audience of mostly African-American attendees. “That’s how we’re really moving the needle to make progress.” — Bloomberg