Unfortunately, we are living through a period where, in some places, our differences are driving divisiveness. Like everyone else, I watch the news, see the headlines and am impacted by the images of communities torn apart by violence and divided by distrust. The topic of race is on my mind, it’s a discussion I have with my family and friends and it’s something that I bring to work. Of course my experience, I know, is not unique. The pervasiveness of current events affects everyone at our firm from summer interns to senior leaders. I know this because at Goldman Sachs we’re starting to talk about it…
The author of the above post, Edith Cooper, is the “Global Head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs”, according to her LinkedIn bio. I’d be inclined to agree, that she is quite good at managing the human capital at Goldman, just not in any way that actually encourages discussion about anything besides firm “approved” topics.
Recently, Goldman Sachs barred donations to “certain” political campaigns, notably the Trump-Pence Presidential ticket. ZeroHedge covered this topic recently, and below is an excerpt from their article:
Goldman explains that “the policy change is also meant to minimize potential reputational damage caused by any false perception that the firm is attempting to circumvent pay-to-play rules, particularly given partners’ seniority and visibility,” adding that “all failures to pre-clear political activities as outlined below are taken seriously and violations may result in disciplinary action.”
Yet while the new policy would be perfectly reasonable if it was treated both political candidates equitably, it appears that there is a loophole: namely Clinton-Kaine.
Because as Forbes diligently reports, “the rules do not restrict donations to Clinton-Kaine. Kaine is a U.S. Senator for Virginia, and not considered a local official under Goldman’s rules. Although the memo does say that Goldman partners are no longer able to donate to the Virginia Democratic party, which could be a reference to Kaine. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s CEO, has declined to say who he is supporting for president, but is known as a long-time Clinton supporter. Blankfein donated to Clinton when she ran against Obama is 2008.”
I didn’t buy this at first, feeling as though it could be exaggeration. So, I spoke to a friend of mine who works at the Goldman Sachs office in NYC; a Trump supporter, he will remain anonymous for obvious reasons. He informed me that not only does the memo apply to “all partners”, it applies to everyone at the firm, period.
He spoke of another colleague he knew of, who was recently terminated after the firm discovered he donated to Trump’s campaign. Though the firm conjured up an unrelated technicality to justify his termination, the implication was clear to all employees. He made sure to point out that this employee he mentioned was definitely NOT a partner, and that he knew employees who had donated to Hillary who were (obviously) not terminated.
He continued on, stating that he is now in complete fear of even discussing his support of Trump with anyone at the office. When queried about the election in the workplace, he simply states that he is “disgusted” with what is going on, and keeps his opinion to himself. Knowing that another round of consolidation in the banking sector can occur at any time, he does not want to give anyone at the firm any ammunition that could be used to terminate his employment.
Of course, even though its shares are publicly traded, Goldman Sachs is a private company, and can do however it pleases. However, it is quite shocking that the “Global Head of Human Capital Management” is trying to masquerade herself as someone who promotes open discussion in the workplace, yet will terminate you the second you “discuss” something that may question the firm’s political stance.
Then again, I guess I wouldn’t be shocked… if I just did what Bernie Sanders did, and followed the money.