Goldman Sachs seems to have a problem on its hands in their wealth division with women that have either been harassed, reported abuse by superiors, or as seems to be the most common complaint, the pressure to ‘cozy up’ when called upon by management. Over the weekend we had an illuminating discussion with two women (one who continues to be employed by the firm, and one who has since left) that both settled claims against their employer. Both discussed the nature of the environment in which they were asked to do things ‘differently’ than make colleagues, and were willing to give us details on the condition of anonymity.
Some initial context to these discussions – both instances and victims worked in the Dallas office of Goldman Sachs. One was an advisor in the firms wealth management division and the other was an executive assistant on one of the larger teams in that same location. Niether woman claimed (independently, as we honored the anonymity even within the conversational cross reporting) to have any knowledge of other reports or settled claims at their location; they simply wanted their info to find the light of day, versus buried in off book settlements.
“The environment within the financial services industry is always going to have an inherent bias towards masculinity. It is risk and high energy and performance based compensation that draws the interest of men at a larger percentage than women. I get that and understood it from day one. But what ultimately ended up being the reason I walked away from the firm was much deeper than just understandable bias and a little locker room talk – it was the belief that ‘eye candy’ was an active part of my resume’ and should be used as such with both clients and colleagues. I didn’t appreciate it and it finally came to the point where there was an incident. Look, management wasn’t dumb enough to make advances on site – but the magic of messaging apps exists in 2019/20. An individual in a leadership position was savvy enough to become a friend, and that turned into something else altogether over time. When the messaging began outside of the any verifiable GS tech, I tried to be cool about it but wasn’t comfortable with it. Once I made that clear the attitude toward me in the office turned ugly and I was asked, consistently, to do things professionally that were below my pay grade. I was asked to ‘entertain’ clients; usually the requests came on behalf of single male clients. I ended up reporting the inappropriate advances via messaging apps, as well as the treatment after I turned him down.”
“During the investigation, which took more than 8 months, I was passed up for a promotion that, per the criteria, should have been a foregone conclusion. It was right there that I decided to leave the firm. When GS offered me a settlement I agreed and left the firm 90 days later. Easy decision. I wasn’t about to let those fuckers stunt the growth of my career.”
The above come from one of the women we spoke to, but we aren’t going to identify which of the two positions she held, per the requests that were made of us. Obviously, the behavior that she dealt with was wrong and ultimately settled by the firm. The next disclosure is a little darker, so be warned.
“I really don’t want to go to deep on this but it needs to be out there and any of my female colleagues need to understand that this can happen to anyone. Someone that I thought was a genuine friend and held my same position – we even went through training at the same time – spiked my drink and attempted to take advantage of me. The spiking attempt didn’t have the full effect or else I could have been raped by someone that I thought was a friend. It took me a week to report it and the trauma of dealing with a snake that masqueraded as a friend was traumatic. Ultimately I stayed here because I thought remaining was the more important choice than walking away. Needless to say, my ‘friend’ was fired.”
Two different situations in one location at Goldman Sachs, over the past two years. Much could be written about the role of gender and workplace decorum on these pages, but a simple rule generally solves most issues from every happening in the first place: if you wouldn’t say it or do it with the CEO standing directly in front of you, you shouldn’t say it or do it at all. To take it a step further, the understanding of right and wrong is pretty basic – or as both of these women uttered during our conversations – just don’t be a fucking douchebag.