Goldman Sachs CEO speaks in support of junior bankers’ woes of workplace abuse

In a message to his staff across the globe, David Solomon, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, came out in support of junior bankers who had complained of excessive work hours and calling out workplace abuse.

In a recorded message to 34,000 staff on Sunday evening, Solomon said he took the complaints “very seriously” and encouraged others at the investment bank to speak out.

A group of 13 junior analysts at the bank had undertaken a work survey and compiled a presentation where they listed out the working hours’ concerns that most juniors employed at the bank face. The first-year banking analysts said they have worked an average of around 100 hours each week in 2021 and slept five hours a night.

The “Working Conditions Survey” said that they considered themselves victims of workplace abuse.

Goldman Sachs Workplace Abuse

Solomon, in his message, empathized with the group saying, “I can imagine that many of you saw the presentation that a group of analysts shared with their management recently about their lack of work-life balance.

“This is something that our leadership team and I take very seriously.”

He reinforced “the Saturday rule” which says that junior bankers should not be expected in the office from 9 pm on Friday until 9 am on Sunday.

Another solution was to hire more junior staff across its investment banking division and to automate more activities to reduce workloads.

In the presentation, one respondent said: “The sleep deprivation, the treatment by senior bankers, the mental and physical stress… I’ve been through foster care and this is arguably worse.”

Another said: “I didn’t come into this job expecting 9 am – 5 pm, but I also didn’t expect consistent 9 am-5 am either.”

The survey found more than three-quarters had been the victim of workplace abuse. In addition to the long hours, the analysts cited unrealistic deadlines, having no voice and being micromanaged, which seems to have added stress.

Dismissing concerns about repercussions for the group, Solomon reassured the staff that the bank welcomed inputs on such issues and wanted more people to speak out.

He said: “In this case, it’s great that this group of analysts went to their management.

“We want a workplace where people can share concerns freely. So we want to encourage all of you to take the opportunity to speak with your management. If there are any issues, do not hesitate to reach out to ask for help.”

He also raised the issue of work-from-home in his message. Solomon has made it clear in his earlier statements that he wants Goldman Sachs employees to come back to their offices. He added that maybe the remote work was adding to the problems and burden of work.

He is an isolated voice against the hybrid working model, with most businesses now coming out in favor of flexible working schedules following the pandemic.

Solomon said: “We recognize that people working today face a new set of challenges. In this world of remote work, it feels like we have to be connected 24/7. All of us — your colleagues, your managers, our divisional leaders — we see that.”

He added: “If we all go an extra mile for our client, even when we feel that we’re reaching our limit, it can really make a difference in our performance.”

The attrition rate at corporate jobs are pretty high, especially in the investment banking and legal sector. Most juniors barely last six months. There are concerns that such long hours are counterproductive in the long run with efficiency and productivity the victims of tired brains.

But others believe that people who join are aware of the hard grind and really compensated well for their efforts. Most are just out of college and drawing $150,000 straight out of college; they instantly become members of the 0.1 percent, with expectations of drawing a seven-figure salary in just 5 to 7 years.

Jane Harper
Writer. Human resources expert and consultant. Follow @thehrdigest on Twitter

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