In February 2021, he noted: “I do think for a business like ours, which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us.
“And it’s not a new normal. It’s an aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible”.
Likes some of his banking CEO peers, he is concerned that younger employees will struggle to get the “direct mentorship” required to do a good job if they are working from home.
Solomon has reiterated these views in a recent interview with TIME.
He noted “that to be competitive for a workforce—Goldman Sachs is a highly, highly skilled, highly valued, group of people—that you’ve got to always be thinking about the things you do that make it a super-attractive place for people to want to work”
“But for us, that doesn’t mean that people can work from wherever they want to on whatever schedule they want to. There might be businesses that work that way, but ours is a collaborative team-oriented apprenticeship business.”
The need for “relatable” leaders
In the same interview, Solomon discussed how Goldman Sachs is going to attract the next generations of talent. Business success for Goldman Sachs will be linked to its ability to recruit and retain young talent. Solomon himself has spent many years trying to modernize the bank’s culture, including relaxing dress codes and raising pay.
“The workforce is demanding more transparency, more purpose, more authenticity. They want leaders that are relatable.
“With the transparency of the world, with social media, with access, with communication. Leaders are much more visible.
“And if you’re going to be visible, they don’t want to just see you as a hard-nose decision maker. They want to see who you are as a person. They want to see you authentically.”
To put this in context, Solomon earnt $35 million last year – the majority of which was a performance-related bonus. He defended his high salary in the TIME piece: “There are a lot of businesses… where people got more money than I do. There’s a competitive market out there.
“If we deliver, we do well. We don’t deliver, we do less well.”
He continues that CEOs and leaders must listen to their workforce. “You’re not always going to be completely popular for every decision you make.
“But you need to listen, and you need to take in people’s point of view.”
But is he practicing what he preaches? Is he actually listening to his workers about what they want out of the future of work?
It doesn’t seem that Goldman Sachs employees agreed about the need to be in the office to work collaboratively and productively.
Solomon called back all of its workers in February 2022 – after a shutdown because of the Omicron variant over the fall and winter. But as reported by Fortune, only 50% of the workers at Goldman Sachs’ New York headquarters actually turned up on the first day – despite having been given more than two weeks’ notice. The bank however claims that the HQ was seen up to 70% of employees over the course of the week.
Either way, this is not close to 100% capacity that Solomon wants. Maybe Goldman Sachs – and other big banks against remote working – need to rethink, especially because a lack of flexible working options is a major driver of the ‘Great Resignation’ of all generations of staff.