Goldman Sachs trades in unimaginable amounts of money for its wealthy clientele, but according to a former high-level employee, it trades in more than that inside its own walls. A new memoir tells awful stories of sex and abuse that can easily be imagined unfolding on the silver screen with a great deal of credibility.
Goldman Sachs is a legend on Wall Street and around the world. In 2020 alone, the firm generated $44.6 billion in net revenues. That much money and power frequently, if not always, comes with corruption and cruelty. Most everyone knows that money brings out the basest of human desires, including greed and sex. After that, in an increasingly dangerous and immoral world, power players become practicers of entitlement, cruelty, vengeance, and misogyny.
Only a few women have ever become senior bankers at the “boys club.” One of them is Jamie Fiore Higgins. After 17 years of working her way up, Higgins became managing director in the New York offices but left her million-dollar job in 2016 at the age of 40.
Her new memoir, “Bully Market: My Story of Money and Misogyny at Goldman Sachs,” was released at the end of August by publisher Simon & Schuster.
When she left the firm, Higgins was earning a pre-bonus salary of $875,000. At the time of her promotion to that position, she alleges being told that she got it “because of [her] vagina.”
The male colleague who told her that also purportedly said, “Don’t you know how Wall Street rolls, sister? At Goldman, sex will propel you further than an Ivy League diploma.”
Ms. Higgins said that her male colleagues harassed, bullied, and physically abused her during her years at the bank, where male traders kept “f***ability” rankings of women in the office.
She claims that the bank had a booklet of ID pictures of the bank’s female analysts. Every time the book was brought out, there would be “whistles, hoots, and hollers from traders.”
Seeing the booklet for the first time, one employee purportedly said, “Research needs to be done on these ladies. I want t** size, ass shape, and leg length. We can’t rank on f***ability by just a black and white picture.”
One particularly shocking allegation tells the story of a married male subordinate who was having an affair with one of his clients. According to the memoir, this entanglement was reported by the spouse. One senior staffer at Goldman purportedly responded, “I can’t get rid of him, but I can tell him to control his wife.”
Higgins, in her role as managing director, responded differently. She did what she could and removed him from managing the client’s account. This infuriated the man, who, in her telling, grabbed her by the throat and pinned her against a wall. “If I could, I’d rip your f***ing face off,” he screamed at her.
Writing about the toxic nightlife outside the office, Higgins says that some of her coworkers hit on her. One colleague in an advanced state of drunkenness allegedly came on to her and tried to kiss her. He looked at her through bloodshot eyes and said, “I’ve had a thing for you for months. Let’s grab a room tonight.” She tried to push him away, but he put his hand on her knee and squeezed hard.
It wasn’t just sex and abuse at Goldman. It was also raw greed. Colleagues reportedly would strut their ambitions to obtain flashy cars, diamonds, and Rolex watches. “I’m still working on my F*** You Money status,” said one banker, according to Higgins’ memoir. “But for my next vacation I’m chartering a private plane. No more sitting with the fat ugly Joes in commercial.”
Goldman Sachs, which officially denies any wrongdoing, implied that the writing of a book is not the way to make allegations. Those allegations would have been investigated, they say, if they had been reported to human resources when they occurred.
Kathy Ruemmler, general counsel at Goldman, said, “Bloomberg’s reporting contains factual errors, and we dispute this story.”
But it is a challenge to keep such explosive stories under wraps. Just this week, Bloomberg reported that Goldman paid a female executive more than $12 million to keep the sexist culture at the bank quiet.
There is another lawsuit still underway after 12 years, with 1,200 plaintiffs alleging widespread bias against women in pay and promotions.
In a world of such advanced immorality, this appears to be the cost of doing business.
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