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Banks

Former Goldman executive Chavez reflects on diversity on Wall Street

(Reuters) - Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc GS.N executive Marty Chavez said on Tuesday Wall Street's position on diversity has evolved since he started at the megabank in the 1990s.

FILE PHOTO: Dr. Martin Chavez of Goldman Sachs Gives speaks at the annual American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) New York Gala at Cipriani's on Wall Street in New York February 8, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Burton

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 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.”

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Nishant Niket in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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