Greg Smith, executive director at Goldman Sachs, resigned today and he wants the world to know that the environment at the Goliath investment firm is “now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.” The New York Times today is running Smith’s tirade against Goldman Sachs in the Op-Ed section under the headline “Why I am Leaving Goldman Sachs.” What a “get” for the New York Times, what a forum for Smith and what a HR and PR nightmare for Goldman Sachs. Smith writes with a certain sadness that the firm he once loved is now devoid of culture and morals, a place where fast money is put above client need, where greed is baked into every morsel of client advice. This is just one employee complaining and this will blow over from “story of the day” to yesterday’s news, right? My prediction is it will have legs – that Smith was in a position of power and influence at Goldman Sachs and if the firm is savvy, it will address this op-ed with its employees, seek feedback from all ranks of the company, and listen more carefully to its clients, who are unlikely to pull their business but more likely now to ask questions.
We all know that if a company were to allow its employees to write an op-ed piece about their experience that might be viewed by say, more than 2 people, a certain percentage of these writings would not be positive musings about their former employer. Imagine if once a week, the New York Times were to run a “Why I am Leaving (fill in blank of company name)” – would we run our businesses differently? Would we treat our employees and clients differently? Would we listen more carefully and would we be able to look every customer and employee in the eye when we talk about our brand? Most likely we would.