Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon is off to an interesting start to his new job. On his first two days in the role, the executive found himself not in the glassy confines of 200 West Street, the investment bank’s global headquarters in New York, but under swaying palm trees at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif.
His intent? Clearly communicate his goal to get more women in the door at the storied firm. This year’s Goldman Sachs intern class is 47% women, up from 45% last year, Solomon told a ballroom full of female executives. That jump is the result of more emphasis on representation.
“I started asking some very tough questions about why, when we recruit out of school, we weren’t at 50-50 from a gender diversity perspective,” Solomon told Fortune’s Leigh Gallagher. “And not just gender, but also looking at other underpopulated groups, underrepresented groups.”
Solomon said Goldman Sachs is evaluating changes to its recruitment process in a bid to reach gender parity and address biases that have persisted for decades.
“We had to tweak the way we do things,” he said. “Sometimes you have get just simple and practical to move the needle.”
Solomon also honored Aleks Gren of Poland and Gitanjali Rajamani of India by presenting them with the Goldman Sachs-Fortune Global Women Leaders Award. Rajamani said she plans to give back to her community by training Indian farmers in sustainable and regenerative practices and help increase the market value famers get for their crops. Gren, who has worked with refugees internationally, said she plans to build her network educating girls in refugee camps in STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—fields, including computer programming.
Solomon asked Gren and Rajamani if they had any words of wisdom to share for him as he embarked on his new job. (Solomon replaces Lloyd Blankfein, who served as Goldman CEO for 12 years.) Gren replied: “Stay human, be curious, and appreciate everybody because you never know when you can rely on the person that you least appreciated.”
“Kindness and compassion go a long way,” Rajamani added, “even in business.”
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