By Alan Murray and David Meyer
October 3, 2018

Good morning.

What should a CEO do the first day on the job? That’s not a frivolous question. Symbolism is an essential part of leadership; and how a leader spends precious time is a potent symbol.

That’s why David Solomon’s decision to spend his first day as CEO of Goldman Sachs at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women conference is significant. Goldman has long been a sponsor of the conference, but Solomon also was making a statement about his intention of taking the investment bank to gender parity. “We had to tweak the way we do things,” he said. “Sometimes you have to get simple and practical to move the needle.”

Most of the sessions at MPW don’t deal explicitly with gender issues, but rather with general business issues. The all-female audience, however, makes a difference in the tenor of some of the conversations. This year, for instance, artificial intelligence was a top topic, as it is at every business conference. But the ethics of AI seemed more front and center than at Fortune’s other conferences.

Bridget van Kralingen of IBM told me about her company’s efforts to promote the ethical use of AI. Among other things, she said, the company is letting others use its technology to test for bias in their algorithms. “We think this is important,” van Kralingen said. “Does AI lead to greater empowerment of the few, or does it benefit the many?” Good question.

The highlight of day two of the summit was a town hall discussion on gender in the workplace, led by Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments and featuring Anita Hill. Hill’s recollections of her Senate testimony 27 year ago, coming in the midst of the Senate’s consideration of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, earned her more than one ovation from the crowd. You can read more about it here, and more coverage of the MPW event here.

Other news below.

Alan Murray


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