As the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, came to an end on Saturday, one of the more lighthearted stories to emerge was that Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein was seen sporting facial hair. "I always had a beard on vacation," the normally smooth-faced and smooth-headed Blankfein told CNBC last Friday, "and I'd think to myself, 'Gosh, wouldn't it just prolong the vacation if I kept the beard?'"
Gosh indeed. As good a story as the beard expose is, I think the far better but far less reported Goldman story to come out of Davos is Blankfein's reason for being there in the first place: to discuss 10,000 Women, Goldman's $100 million initiative to help female entrepreneurs around the world learn more about running and managing their fledgling businesses.
Wall Street helping women 10,000 Women is the sister program to 10,000 Small Businesses: Goldman's $500 billion initiative to "help small businesses create jobs and economic opportunity by providing them with greater access to business education, financial capital, and business support services."
10,000 Women takes a women-focused, global perspective to the issue of job creation. Per the Goldman website, the program helps "grow local economies and bring about greater shared prosperity by providing 10,000 underserved women-entrepreneurs with a business and management education, access to mentors and networks and links to capital." It accomplishes this through:
10,000 Women is a five-year initiative that started in 2008. It operates in 43 locations and has 89 partners, including the Clinton Global Initiative, London Business School, the Aspen Institute, and the George W. Bush Institute. It's a serious socially responsible initiative from the last company you'd probably expect.
By the numbers That covers the social responsibility portion of today's presentation on Goldman, but what about the bank's performance as a business? A company can be the most socially responsible organization on the planet, but if it isn't putting up stellar numbers as a business, it can hardly be promoted as a savvy overall investment. Luckily for Goldman Sachs, business performance isn't an issue. Have you seen the bank's fourth-quarter results?