business

Goldman Sachs Goes Online for Next Step in Its 10,000 Women Push

  • Program supports female entrepreneurs in developing countries
  • Bank has pledged more gender balance in its own workforce

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has made a push to be more digital, even in its charitable operations.

The bank has hit the goal it set a decade ago to help 10,000 female entrepreneurs in developing countries grow their business and access capital. Now, one of Wall Street’s most well-known philanthropic efforts is expanding its reach by offering free online classes.

In the wake of public scrutiny after the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs set up two programs to try to improve its image -- 10,000 Women and 10,000 Small Businesses. As part of the former, the firm has donated more than $100 million and taught business skills to women in countries such as Brazil, India and Nigeria. In developing countries, female entrepreneurship has been increasing, and there are now about 8 to 10 million of these businesses, according to research from the World Bank.

“By virtue of contributing to their families economically, the barriers -- whether cultural or religious -- were lifted,” John Rogers, chairman of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, said in an interview. “And lifted enough that their daughters were able to go to school.”

The new curriculum will be offered in English through Coursera, an online learning platform accessed by more than 32 million users. It will feature graduates of the program in case studies and videos in the course.

The bank originally built the program around research it did showing global economic growth could be increased by boosting women in the workplace. The firm is battling with that itself -- women made up 38 percent of the bank’s U.S. employees and its top executives have pledged to increase to 50 percent at some point in the future. It’s aiming to start with an even split in its hiring of recent college graduates by 2021.

“You have to be true internally to be true to your goals outside,” Rogers said. “I would say those things are matched up, but then I would say what’s the measurement of progress? What we’ve been doing over the last years is trying to put in place the tools to measure that progress internally.”

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