Goldman Sachs is set to pay $215 million to settle a long-standing gender discrimination lawsuit that accused the Wall Street bank of bias against women, according to the Financial Times. The class action lawsuit, brought by former female employees, claimed that they were consistently underpaid and undervalued compared to their male colleagues. The settlement will be dispersed among approximately 2,800 associates and vice-presidents who participated in the class action, primarily in the investment banking and securities divisions. As part of the agreement, plaintiffs’ lawyers said Goldman Sachs had also undertaken to hire an independent expert “to conduct an additional analysis on performance evaluation processes” at the bank, as well as conduct “pay equity studies”.
The original claimants, including former Goldman employees Cristina Chen-Oster and Shanna Orlich, first sued Goldman in 2010 and won the right to lead a class-action lawsuit over sex discrimination in 2018. They accused Goldman of company-wide policies and practices that led to better pay and promotion prospects for its male employees and alleged that the bank’s review process allowed managers, mostly men, to nominate people who contributed to appraisals of staff, leading to a “tap on the shoulder system”.
“My goal in this case has always been to support strong women on Wall Street,” said Allison Gamba, one of the plaintiffs. “I am proud that the result we achieved here will advance gender equity.” Jacqueline Arthur, global head of human capital management at Goldman, said the bank was “proud of its long record of promoting and advancing women and remains committed to ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace for all our people”.
The settlement concludes a long-running legal case surrounding Goldman, which had underscored the struggle on Wall Street to diversify the finance industry’s workforce. Last year, another former Goldman employee, Jamie Fiore Higgins, published a memoir of her 17 years at the bank in which she alleged she suffered bullying, discrimination, and manipulation.
Goldman’s chief executive David Solomon has talked publicly about trying to diversify the bank’s workforce and published a set of hiring targets in 2019. In the group’s biennial selection process for its elite partner status last year, 29 per cent of the employees selected were women, a record high.
The settlement is an indication that the issue of gender discrimination in the workplace is still a major problem in the finance industry. Despite many years of initiatives to promote gender equality, women still face significant challenges in achieving equal pay and equal opportunities for promotion. The case also highlights the importance of companies conducting regular pay equity studies to ensure that they are not discriminating against women or other minority groups.
The $215 million settlement is a significant victory for the former female employees who brought the case against Goldman Sachs. It is also a reminder that the finance industry still has a long way to go in terms of promoting gender equality in the workplace. It is hoped that this settlement will encourage other companies to review their policies and practices to ensure that they are not discriminating against women or other groups
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