Feminism, Gender, Goldman Sachs, Wall Street, Women's Issues

Goldman Sachs Accused of Sex Discrimination

The fantastically successful firm of Goldman Sachs isn’t just “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” It also discriminates against women, according to the allegations in a lawsuit filed earlier today.

Three female ex-employees of Goldman Sachs accuse the venerable bank of maintaining an “outdated corporate culture” that discriminates against women in terms of pay and promotions. The Goldman Girls — not to be confused with Betty White et al. — seek class-action certification for a class consisting of all female managing directors, vice presidents and associates in the last six years.

The lawsuit alleges that women are underrepresented in GS management, making up just 14 percent of partners, 17 percent of managing directors, and 29 percent of vice presidents. Given what it means to be a partner at Goldman — the New York Times recently described it as “the equivalent of winning the lottery,” in an interesting article about some GS partners being stripped of partnership (law firms aren’t the only ones who can play that game) — the stakes are high.

That’s the straightforward stuff. Other claims in the lawsuit, as noted by Nathan Koppel of the Wall Street Journal, are “a bit more salacious”….

Plaintiff H. Christina Chen-Oster, who worked in Goldman’s bonds department, claimed she was groped by a male colleague after an evening outing in 1997 at a New York city topless bar — an event allegedly held to commemorate Goldman employees who had been promoted to managing director. After reporting this incident, Chen-Oster claimed she was increasingly marginalized at the bank.

Wow, 1997 — that’s a long time ago. I think Abby Joseph Cohen’s butt got patted back in 1991, too.

Shanna Orlich, a former associate in the capital structure trading group who has a combined JD/MBA from Columbia, claimed she was assigned clerical work, and was asked by a senior analyst to set up his Blackberry and to answer calls from his wife.

Okay, that’s pretty outrageous. Credentials don’t get much better than a Columbia JD/MBA. Why waste them on clerical work?

Interesting, though, that Orlich was allegedly asked to set up a male colleague’s Blackberry. Isn’t the sexist stereotype that women aren’t good with technology?

She also claimed that she was denied opportunities to join golf outings, even though she was an experienced golfer who had played on her varsity team in high school.

Being spared the company golf outing: discrimination, or perk?

Goldman Sachs, through a spokesperson, claims the suit lacks merit: “People are critical to our business, and we make extraordinary efforts to recruit, develop and retain outstanding women professionals.”

Goldman Sachs Hit With Sex Discrimination Suit [WSJ Law Blog]
Lawsuit Accuses Goldman Sachs of Gender Bias [Reuters]
At Goldman, Partners Are Made, and Unmade [New York Times]

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