US: Gay former Goldman exec Chavez on diversity on Wall Street

Marty Chavez – Image: forbes.com

(Reuters) – Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc executive, Marty Chavez, said on Tuesday [that] Wall Street’s position on diversity has evolved since he started at the mega-bank, in the 1990s.

Chavez, who is Latino and openly gay, said he hesitated when he was first offered a position on Wall Street, fearing Goldman Sachs might see his identity as a gay man as a liability.

“I just blurted out to the gentleman who was hiring me – I think I need to tell you that I’m gay. And this was 1993,” Chavez said, speaking on SALT Talks, a series of digital interviews with ‘investors, creators, and thinkers’.

“All he could think of to say was, ‘Hey, do you have a boyfriend?’, which is I think maybe not the response you would have in 2020, but I took that to mean, woah, this must be a gay friendly place,” he said.

“I think it would have been more accurate for me to have concluded that this was a place that didn’t care if I was straight or gay. It just cared that I was good at math and software.”

Chavez retired as Goldman Sachs’ co-head of the securities’ division at the end of last year.

The banking industry has come under fire for a lack of racial and gender diversity, in the wake of the Me Too movement, and global protests over racial injustice.

Once considered a potential CEO candidate, Chavez held a number of roles during his 19 years at the firm, including chief information officer, and chief financial officer.

Chavez said [that] during his time on Wall Street, firms “began to understand that diversity of your workforce was like diversification of your portfolio.”

But he said that there was a long way to go, and noted that his mentors were all “straight white Jewish males.”

“If I had been waiting for a Latino mentor, or an LGBT mentor, or God forbid, one who is both Latino and LGBT, I’d still be out there waiting.”

-Noor Zainab Hussain and Nishant Niket in Bengaluru

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