“I laughed at drawing milk at Goldman Sachs”

Women have accused investment banks of gender discrimination and harassment for years. Almost none have done anything like Jamie Fiore Higgins.

Last week, Higgins posted bullying marketa 320-page account of her 17 years at Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs, where she held a coveted position as chief executive until her resignation in 2016.

Here’s a taste of what she says happened to her around that time:

She passed out at work, having returned earlier than her doctor advised after a miscarriage because a manager said the office was understaffed and when his wife had a miscarriage, “she was fine after a few days.”

She felt like she was going to pass out after confronting a subordinate having an affair with a client who put his hand under her jaw, shoved her against a wall and shouted, “If I could, I would rip your ass off.

She sat next to a man who asked his friend to do a “fuckability” ranking of female analysts on Excel.

She stopped using the bank’s breastfeeding rooms after a boss told her she would never become a general manager if she pumped milk instead of working. When she went ahead anyway after having another baby, her male colleagues moaned “Moooo” and pretended to squeeze their breasts as she walked towards the lactation center. One day she came back to find a toy cow on her desk.

Higgins does not spare himself. Coming from a modest background, she says she was seduced by the bank’s sumptuous bonuses and kept quiet to move forward.

She eventually quit when her career began to crumble after complaining that a co-worker went unpunished after intoxicated hurling racial epithets at a karaoke bar employee at a party with clients.

I found my eyes sparkling as I read the book, despite an author’s note at the start warning that some names are changed, the dialogue is not verbatim, and several of Goldman’s people are “composite characters.”

Goldman said last week that he strongly disagrees with Higgins’ characterization of his culture and his “anonymized allegations.” “Had Ms. Higgins raised these allegations with our human resources department at the time, we would have investigated them thoroughly and dealt with them seriously,” the bank said.

“We have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination or retaliation against employees who report misconduct.”

The question is, five years after the #MeToo movement took off, has this behavior persisted, in banking or elsewhere?

“I think it’s probably not as bad as it used to be,” says Higgins, who was being driven from her New Jersey home to Manhattan for a series of Network TV interviews when I spoke to her last week. .

She is convinced that the physical assault she suffered would no longer be tolerated, although she claims the man who assaulted her still works in the financial markets in New York.

And since her book began publishing, she’s received “probably over 100” messages from women with similar experiences who are either still in banking, recently gone, or in private equity, law, medicine and other male-dominated fields. .

Many remain silent because of non-disclosure agreements.

“I got so many messages on my various social accounts from people saying, ‘Oh my god, this is my book, I can’t write it because of my NDA’.”

Higgins considered suing, but after a lawyer explained the risks to her, she instead wrote a “freedom spreadsheet” to calculate when she would have enough financial security to quit. As she puts it, “it’s pretty rare that people leave with the intention of never working on Wall Street again.”

She started writing lessons after he left and got a writing coach to help shape what became bullying market.

Now 46 years old, she is also an executive coach with about fifteen clients. She has a lot to say, starting with the advice she gives to any powerful organization at the end of her book.

Three ideas stand out: Make HR independent. Ensure that the ideals and principles developed in the executive office permeate all ranks. And don’t pay or promote managers solely because of their financial contribution. Instead, hold them accountable for their character and the culture of their teams. Otherwise, everyone in the company might one day wake up to read something about themselves that they never expected to see.

[email protected]

Comments are closed.