Goldman Sachs being sued for gender discrimination

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AndyLouis - Certified Professional
Rank: Human | banana points 17,714

"The lawsuit portrays Goldman as Wall Street's version of Animal House". I'm on the outside looking in so curious to hear your guys' thoughts. How big a deal is this? What do you think will happen?

Two women suing investment bank Goldman Sachs for gender discrimination filed papers on Tuesday in federal court requesting class status. The move, if granted, would allow them to press their case on behalf of all female associates and vice presidents in investment banking and securities divisions who worked at the firm since 2002, potentially opening the case up to thousands of women. In the process, the women are taking aim at the entire culture of Wall Street.

Cristina Chen-Oster, a former Goldman vice president, and Shanna Orlich, a former associate, filed suit against the company in 2010, accusing it of discrimination against female employees in areas from compensation to work assignments and advancement. They alleged that the company routinely paid female employees up to 21 percent less than their male counterparts; that women were promoted more slowly and more reluctantly than men; and that the environment was generally hostile to women. Not surprisingly, strip clubs are mentioned multiple times. The women and their attorneys spent four years gathering evidence in a rather devastating dossier if their findings are taken at face value.

Goldman Sachs denied the allegations. "This is a normal and anticipated procedural step for any proposed class action lawsuit and does not change the case's lack of merit," said a Goldman spokesman in a statement.

"I believe that Goldman Sachs maintains a culture of bias against women. I have witnessed firsthand Goldman Sachs' pervasive boys' club culture. I also believe that having children has negatively affected my opportunities for advancement," wrote one Lisa Albanese, a former vice president in the equities division who says that she was never promoted to the managing director level despite her status as a top performer. "In order to be successful at Goldman Sachs, I had to tolerate offensive language from male co-workers and a boys' club atmosphere."

Chen-Oster reports that she was sexually assaulted by a male co-worker at a staff dinner in 1997 and then discouraged from reporting it to human resources. Years later, after taking maternity leave, she says she found all her juiciest assignments handed off to male colleagues. "If Goldman Sachs were a better place for women to work and I thought that I would not be treated differently from men, I would seek a career there," she writes.

"In my experience, entertaining clients at strip clubs was considered routine for Goldman in the U.S.," writes Katalin Tischhauser, who worked on the convertible bond desk in London. She describes a visit to a conference in New Orleans in 2001 where her American colleagues took clients to a strip club and paid the strippers to entertain them. According to the complaint, the firm began discouraging new associates from taking clients to strip clubs in 2005 but did so with a nod and a wink, telling them that if they went, they should simply not expense it.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-07-02/a-...

video: http://www.businessweek.com/videos/2014-07-02/gold...

Comments (70)

Best Response
Jul 2, 2014

judging from the picture, i wouldn't sexually assault either of them

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Jul 2, 2014

Thank you for contributing your immaturity to the business culture, honestly what would we do without you.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit."

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Jul 2, 2014

Thank you for taking comments on an online message board to heart, honestly what would we do without you.

Jul 2, 2014

Obviously a VP in Goldman's equity division had no advancement opportunities at the firm...

Geesh, I swear that half of this country has Aspergers.

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Jul 2, 2014

Goldman & others seem to deal with this on a normal basis, not a big deal to them. Many times these clients will request to do some of the more "misogynistic" activities that are described (i.e. strip clubs) and what are you going to say to the client anyways?

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Jul 2, 2014
GlenGarryGlenross:

Goldman & others seem to deal with this on a normal basis, not a big deal to them. Many times these clients will request to do some of the more "misogynistic" activities that are described (i.e. strip clubs) and what are you going to say to the client anyways?

Bingo. Client gets what the client wants.

Jul 2, 2014
Bullet-Tooth Tony:
GlenGarryGlenross:

Goldman & others seem to deal with this on a normal basis, not a big deal to them. Many times these clients will request to do some of the more "misogynistic" activities that are described (i.e. strip clubs) and what are you going to say to the client anyways?

Bingo. Client gets what the client wants.

Not all strippers are female.

Jul 3, 2014
Christian Grey:
Bullet-Tooth Tony:
GlenGarryGlenross:

Goldman & others seem to deal with this on a normal basis, not a big deal to them. Many times these clients will request to do some of the more "misogynistic" activities that are described (i.e. strip clubs) and what are you going to say to the client anyways?

Bingo. Client gets what the client wants.

Not all strippers are female.

Legitimate strippers are.

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Jul 4, 2014
Bullet-Tooth Tony:
Christian Grey:
Bullet-Tooth Tony:
GlenGarryGlenross:

Goldman & others seem to deal with this on a normal basis, not a big deal to them. Many times these clients will request to do some of the more "misogynistic" activities that are described (i.e. strip clubs) and what are you going to say to the client anyways?

Bingo. Client gets what the client wants.

Not all strippers are female.

Legitimate strippers are.

@"Bullet-Tooth Tony", define legitimate.

Jul 2, 2014

All I hear is a bunch of excuses

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Jul 2, 2014

Wait, so these women are coming into a career that is dominated by about 95% alpha male types, and they honestly expected to be treated like princesses?

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Jul 2, 2014
Skinnayyy:

Wait, so these women are coming into a career that is dominated by about 95% alpha male types, and they honestly expected to be treated like princesses?

Well... When you put it like that.... :)
I am not thrilled about this culture but honestly don't you know that going in?!?!?
I mean sexual harassment is crossing the line but there is nothing illegal about the "entertainment" options (Right? Not that I am thrilled about that either).

Jul 2, 2014

Just because the culture is infamous for being misogynic does not mean that gender discrimination to the extend of these claims is legal. I think the women are retarded for pissing away their career, but it seems likely that they will get a settlement at least.

Jul 2, 2014

So how many success stories are there from employees suing or talking shit about Goldman Sachs? It seems these days everyone wants to sue or publicly announce how horrible the firm is. Makes me wonder how they stayed there for so long in the first place.

Jul 2, 2014

How do they actually prove they were discriminated against? It's just her word against GS's.

Jul 2, 2014
dolph:

How do they actually prove they were discriminated against? It's just her word against GS's.

This class action suit is not going to fly. Those women shouldn't have been hired in the first place.

Jul 2, 2014

Wait, they spent 4 years documenting this? And how do they know they were paid exactly 21% less? I'm sorry, but all these banks have programs for women and minorities. What is that group, 85 broads or something?

My career is worth more than wasting 4 years at a place I feel isn't promoting me just to build a discrimination case.

Jul 2, 2014
TNA:

My career is worth more than wasting 4 years at a place I feel isn't promoting me just to build a discrimination case.

Jul 3, 2014

Kind of calls the whole thing into question.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

Jul 2, 2014

I know some people are brushing this off, but it's a class action, and these two vindictive women spent 4 years gathering ammo. This isn't some off-the-cuff sexual harassment thing. It might turn out worse for GS than people think.

Jul 2, 2014
french grass:

Dumb bitches are dumb.

The only bias Goldman has is against non-targets.

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Jul 5, 2014

LOL... true that

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Jul 2, 2014

Women report a boys club where people binge drink and take clients to strip clubs.

What a joke. I know a few women are GS, ranging from analyst to VP and these two bitching about guys getting wasted is clownish.

And honestly, why would guys want to include coworkers in drinking and going out knowing anything you say off hours can and will be used against your. It's like a parole going out on a Friday night with his PO who is looking to bust him.

GS will settle, but this shit is redic.

Jul 2, 2014

Goldman should just settle with them....in all $1 bills.

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Jul 2, 2014
Crazy Lloyd Braun:

Goldman should just settle with them....in all $1 bills.

LOL...carefully placed one by one in between their underwear straps while they are doing some dancing for the guys on a conference room table.

Jul 2, 2014

I hope their claims are legit, not because I harbor ill will against GS, but because it will otherwise set women back in the industry. If your complaint is that type A+ bankers like boobs, beer and tasteless jokes, take it up with biology, not GS.

Jul 3, 2014

delete

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Jul 2, 2014

Dominatrix shit right here.

Dec 21, 2014

delete

Jul 2, 2014

As reported by Bloomberg and rehashed in Dealbreaker, strip clubs /adult entertainment and steak houses have fallen out of favor. Fitness studios and spin classes are in. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-18/sweaty-wa...

Jul 2, 2014

I can't think of many places that do that

Dec 21, 2014

I don't think this is sex discrimination, something about the 4/5th's rule I learned in HR Mgmt. which I forget.

Dec 21, 2014

Wired did an article along these lines. Not enough women are going into finance. Short of going to colleges and forcing women to study finance and then forcing them to apply and then forcing them to stay with the firms what else can they do? You never read articles about the shortage of men in nursing and how hospitals MUST do something about it. Some professions naturally have more men or more women. It isn't discrimination, it is just how things are.

Dec 21, 2014

Yeah, that's right too. I don't know any undergrad girls who want to go into IB.

Dec 21, 2014

In my MSF class we had 3 women out of 20. This year there are 4-5 out of 30. Not enough apply or want to do it. All this fairness crap never looks at the fact that some professions are not attractive to certain people.

Dec 21, 2014

I don't see it being a gender bias, I just don't think as many women have the desire to live the finance lifestyle, and surely less-so over the long term. Sure there are plenty of very motivated and driven women in this world, and they may go into finance and I think they have the same chance to succeed as any man. But, there just aren't as many as men. I think that if you are a woman that shows the same passion for the job as a man, you actually have an advantage because employers WANT to boost their numbers.

I am sure there are plenty of industries which are exactly the opposite, where women are the majority because the lifestyle/job doesn't appeal to men.

Dec 21, 2014

I was just writing about this actually and I think they'll get a settlement. It's easy to see that they really don't have much of a case here, just because they throw statistics around that fewer women get the top jobs (2 of them were MD's by the way) or get paid less than the men doesn't mean that the firm itself is sexist, the only thing they got going is populist sentiment.

Wall Street really is a man's world, and not just your typical dude; but type A, power and money hungry personalities who call each other names and don't play fair between themselves.

Discrimination my ass man, they were actually getting taken into the fold. Except for the groping part of course.

People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis, you can't trust people Jeremy

Dec 21, 2014
Jorge:

I was just writing about this actually and I think they'll get a settlement. It's easy to see that they really don't have much of a case here, just because they throw statistics around that fewer women get the top jobs (2 of them were MD's by the way) or get paid less than the men doesn't mean that the firm itself is sexist, the only thing they got going is populist sentiment.

I was just going to poke fun at them alleging women getting unfair promotions, yet one is an MD, one a VP, and one an associate.

I think although there is clearly under-representation of women on Wall Street, I think much of it stems from women in general having a different value system. I allude to a CNN article about women in hedge funds, and I quote "One veteran male hedge fund manager says that a fantastic woman who worked for him left to get a doctorate in history, "and she never looked back." He adds, "I've never had a male analyst do that."

So yes, fewer women end up working on the Street, but I feel like it's more due to differing ambitions and personalities than actual gender discrimination.

"Despite a voluminous and often fervent literature on 'income distribution', the cold fact is that most income is not distributed: it is earned."
-Thomas Sowell

Dec 21, 2014

I agree with the above posters, but I'd be curious to hear from any of the ladies out there who are currently working in high finance. Do they agree / disagree with the points of view mentioned above? How do they deal with the male-dominated world that is finance?

Dec 21, 2014

Guys are assholes. Girls are not assholes. Wall Street success is about being an asshole.

Therefore, fewer women succeed on Wall Street.

Dumb bitches.

Dec 21, 2014
banked:

Guys are assholes. Girls are not assholes

This is a gross generalization.
As any consultant would tell you, segmenting reveals truths that generalization hides.

Dec 21, 2014

Its a man's world.

Dec 21, 2014

Apologies, here is the link to the CNN article:

http://money.cnn.com/2005/11/11/funds/hedgingwomen...

"Despite a voluminous and often fervent literature on 'income distribution', the cold fact is that most income is not distributed: it is earned."
-Thomas Sowell

Dec 21, 2014

The real is question what % of the total female goldman workforce, is SVP and up. Let's compare that to the Male population.

Dec 21, 2014

No, the REAL question is how many women got in (or promoted) due to quid pro quo.

Jul 2, 2014

While true sexual assault and discriminating against women for promotion and dollars is wrong, it's very difficult to say that discrimination occurred simply because it's really, really difficult to make it to MD at GS. Like really difficult. The people I know who have made it to MD at the top IB's work their assess off and even people who work their assess off don't always make it.

Regarding strip clubs and things like that: unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your POV, IB is a client business. When clients are doing a big deal, heading to the big city and hanging out with bankers they want to live the perceived lifestyle of bankers: strippers, call girls, drugs, high end restaurants, VIP lounges at the hottest clubs, etc. I say perceived because I don't know many bankers who do that sort of thing (except high end restaurants) on a regular basis unless clients are there. I see it in PE when we're trying to acquire a private company from an owner/entrepreneur. They think, most likely incorrectly, that they're hanging out with the BSD's and that they're in the big time and this is how big time finance guys do it so you get stuck going to strip clubs. I don't like strip clubs and couldn't tell you the last time I was at one without it being because some work related person wanted to go, but I end up at them too often. But if it gets the deal done, I'm willing to do it. It's not restricted to just finance either. We acquired a company a while ago that was a service industry to very large companies (think F50) and the founder was an incredible biz dev guy who stayed on for a few years with a decent earnout. When we started seeing his expenses for very large amounts at strip clubs we asked him about it, and he said that $5-10k at the club in Atlanta or San Antonio ended up adding another $100MM in sales. Whatever it takes.

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Jul 2, 2014

ahhh, the days of boom boom rooms

am I right @"DickFuld"?

Jul 2, 2014
thebrofessor:

ahhh, the days of boom boom rooms

am I right @DickFuld?

First of all, I am happy anytime Goldman gets sued.

Second, if you used your corporate card at Lehman for a strip club, you should expect to get fired. We did not support that. For those saying that's just a part of business and the client always gets what they want, well you're just wrong. By the way, the people in our finance department responsible for approving entertainment expenses knew all of the fake names that strip clubs would bill under.

That being said, we didn't have control if someone spent their own cash with a client on things like a strip club. We just did not condone it.

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Jul 2, 2014

I sincerely hope you got the sarcasm in that

Jul 2, 2014

GS should sue them for wages while misleading them about time wasted "gathering evidence"

Jul 3, 2014

either you do or you find excuses including discrimination, etc.

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Jul 3, 2014

The problem that I have with these cases is the pregnancy talk.. If you're going to take a career break for a number of months because of a choice you have made while working in an intensively competitive industry, what do you expect to happen?

You cannot expect a company to put everything you're working on hold because you wanted to have a baby - of course your 'juciest' work assignments are going to get dished out - the company allows you to come back into the fold after months out but in the meanwhile it has to spread your work between colleagues and naturally the biggest things you work on will receive the most attention! If you take long break you're going to be playing a few years catch up to get back to where you were, it's that simple.

Jul 3, 2014
GMG:

The problem that I have with these cases is the pregnancy talk..

Agreed. It just doesn't seem to make sense to expect a company to hold out on juicy assignments for months because the employee takes several months break based on a personal decision (I am assuming it is planned but you never know).
This applies even more to high finance where even a few continuous days of vacation (TRUE vacation - disconnected & not checking your phone every hour or so) is a luxury few (or none) can afford.

I do not want to bash these women personally but I am pretty sure that even if a dude took a few months' break - no matter how awesome he is or how important the reason for the break - his 'juiciest' assignments would be also be spun off.

I guess I am having trouble with their definition of 'gender discrimination'. If it is an industry dominated by alpha males most activities would be driven by that demographic. Just like areas dominated by women (say, marketing, HR) mostly organize activities that women enjoy more, like birthday parties with cakes & balloons, baby showers, etc.

Also, "gender discrimination" works the other way too. There have been enough occasions when I have seen women walk out of office saying that they need to feed their kids - this happens even when their husbands work from home every day. I can see single dads squirm at this because they have never & will never use this - simply because men wanting to feed their kids on time is not socially acceptable.

On a lighter & unrelated note, I never hear about gender discrimination when guys kinda have to buy drinks/food/tickets/flowers for women. But maybe I have been living under a f***ing rock!

Jul 3, 2014

Agree 100%. It's all about being the victim, things are unfair unless they do them. It's engrained ... in some more than others. My guess is that these chicks, given their actions now, probably didn't deserve the promotion anyway. Those who would have deserved a promotion that difficult to get, would not be acting like they are, i.e. entitled princesses who find the most stereotypical external reason to blame, rather than look at what THEY did to not give them the promotion.

They may be correct, but it's all in the statistics. E.g. if I'm robbed by 100 white guys, but never by a black guy, you can't blame me and call me racist for being more scared of white guys.

Jul 3, 2014

Agreed with GMG.

I looked at their picture again and got annoyed. Again, I have no idea if their claims are valid, but they just look like pain-in-the-ass employees.

Jul 3, 2014

Agreed. They remind me of the annoying tryhards from the finance/investment club.

Jul 3, 2014

Just stop hiring them.

Say the best candidates just happened to be male. They would be forced to tell the truth for a change instead of pleasing minorities.

Jul 3, 2014

This place is a goddamn echo chamber

Jul 3, 2014

You can't have your cake and eat it also. You can be a mom and have an awesome career, but you can't always be a mom and have the best career. It's called a sacrifice.

Jul 3, 2014

Classic

Jul 3, 2014

Being skeptical about whether the claims these two women make are true is all fine and dandy, but don't expect women to "put up" with this "boy's club" mentality if it involves sexual abuse (I CAN'T BELIEVE SOME PEOPLE JOKE ABOUT THIS), lower pay/benefits and slower advancement (assuming comparable and competitive performance to there male counterparts - of which was at least argued in the article). No one should have to deal with that BS - Male or Female.

It doesn't matter if the industry is predominantly ruled by white men. The field should be dictated as it was intended - as an ainclusive environment where everyone is treated equally based on qualifications and prior circumstances.

Jul 3, 2014

Compensation is negotiable and proper pace of career advancement is subjective. The fact that the women even got an interview at Goldman Sachs, let alone hired, let alone PROMOTED is a small miracle in itself for men and women, white or brown. Of course sexual harassment and assault are wrong, but this garbage about "equal pay" and "equal advancement" sounds good on paper but crumbles in the face of real circumstances, such as failing to negotiate harder or more effectively for your benefits package, working fewer hours, being less gregarious with clients, taking maternity leave (when you're talking in terms of 5-10 years of experience, losing 6 months of experience is a pretty big flipping deal), etc. You're entitled to maternity leave--you aren't entitled to be promoted at the same pace as men who don't take maternity leave. If that's the cross you have to bear for bringing a life into this world then so be it.

Jul 3, 2014
DCDepository:

Of course sexual harassment and assault are wrong, but this garbage about "equal pay" and "equal advancement" sounds good on paper but crumbles in the face of real circumstances.

Good point. Pay/promotions discrimination & sexual harassment/assault do not fall in the same group of misdoings... in fact, they are not even in the same zip code..
One is way more serious than the other and the drivers for each are markedly different. Please stop bunching these issues together.

Jul 3, 2014

They were points that were discussed in the article and I referred to them. I understand the pay/promotions aspect with relation to performance and diligence and noted them as well. My concerns were largely surrounding those on this thread who completely disregarded or made jest of the sexual assault claims just because of some arbitrary thumbnail pic of the victims. Or the accusations that these women and those they represent through this class suit must be underperforming because they are women, pregnant, minorities, etc. Not all of banking is a meritocracy. Sometimes there are lapses of injustice that have to be rectified. What evidence does anyone have that they weren't just as productive as their male counterparts. I will admit I don't have hard evidence to prove the opposite but I can go off of what has been claimed by these women and their compiled "4 years of evidence". They could very well be lying through their teeth, but we should at least give them the ability to prove their case.

Jul 3, 2014
Jul 3, 2014
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Jul 6, 2014