By Sridhar Natarajan
Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s youngest Black partner, Darren Dixon, is leaving to start his own fund, adding to a string of exits in the past year from the bank’s already small pool of top-ranking Black executives.
The 35-year-old, who was named partner in 2020, was most recently head of global capital solutions, a group that structures complex deals and rescue financing for companies navigating trouble. Dixon, well-known at the firm for his rapid rise, is in conversations with backers to start an infrastructure-focused fund that would mimic the style of his lucrative money-making group at Goldman, according to people with knowledge of his plans.
Like most firms on Wall Street, Goldman is battling to attract, promote and retain Black executives after pledging to build a diverse workforce at the highest levels. But Goldman’s progress highlights the difficulty in fulfilling those promises. The Wall Street titan had only about a dozen Black partners at the start of last year in its global pool of roughly 400 top-ranked employees, and five of them have quit since then.
That’s one more than the number elevated in the last round of promotions in 2020, meaning the firm is struggling just to keep pace. Goldman, which will announce its newest class of partners later this year, declined to comment on Dixon’s departure.
Dixon climbed quickly in the bank’s giant trading division, where he made his mark as a money maker putting together complex financing deals in Latin America. He was a managing director before he turned 30, and narrowly missed making partner in 2018. He started as a summer intern in 2007 before joining the New York-based firm full-time the next year, going on to specialize in Latin American structured credit trading in a role that meant managing and financing assets such as toll roads.
His group also had oversight over some film libraries and television shows, and at one point had a stake in Harvey Weinstein’s film studio and a 50% interest in the blockbuster television franchise CSI, which Dixon helped manage.
With Dixon’s exit, Goldman will be left with just one Black partner in its markets business –- the company’s largest division and the source of more than $22 billion in revenue in the 12 months through March. Most of the Black partners who left in the past year had recently been promoted. Their decision to exit soon after attaining Goldman’s highest rank means their tenure was much shorter the average Goldman partner.
Chief Executive Officer David Solomon has vowed to “make real, lasting change to improve the diversity” at Goldman, and identified the issue as central to the bank’s ability to compete. Last year, Goldman said that 49 of its 1,548 executives were Black — or 3.2%. That’s a slightly higher percentage than the proportion of Black executives in its exclusive partnership club.
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