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Goldman Sachs just promoted a record percentage of women

(Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
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There's some good news from the finance industry, however incremental in scope, for female leaders. On Thursday, Goldman Sachs released its list of new managing directors — a highly coveted finance job just one step down from partner — and there are more women on the list than ever before.

This year, 106 of the 425 new managing directors, or 25 percent, are women, up from 20 percent in 2013. In 2011, just 19 percent of managing directors were women, and in 2012, the percentage reached 23 percent. (Goldman switched to biennial promotions in 2013.)

The numbers come at a time when the spotlight on the gender leadership gap in the workplace has shifted from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. Whether it's embarrassing incidents of frat-house culture or the unending drip of data about the dismally low numbers of female engineers, technology companies have been garnering the most headlines about struggling to bridge the gender divide.

But that hardly means the finance industry has fixed its numbers. A report last fall from a start-up recruiting firm found that 78 percent of first-year bankers were men. (Several banks disputed the numbers when the study was first reported, but declined then to provide accurate data.) Meanwhile, among the six largest banks in the United States, just 16 of the 88 managers listed as executive officers or members of the operating committee were women. None of the six have a female CEO.

Goldman's numbers also come as at least one global finance hub is making efforts to force companies to be more transparent about their diversity. In Britain, the government has pledged to force employers to publish data about their gender pay gap; it has also upped a target for women to hold 33 percent of seats on corporate boards. Meanwhile, some banks have set their own public targets for how many women they want to see in top roles.

Most recently, a government-commissioned review in Britain recommended tying corporate leaders' pay to the number of senior women appointed at their firms — the kind of regulation that might get attention from the most executives, and prompt the most change, of all.

Read also:

Should banks tie bonuses to the number of women in senior roles?

Two U.K. banks go public about getting more women at the top

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