Goldman Sachs CEO Occupies Center Stage for Human Rights Org

The chairman and CEO of one of the world's largest investment banking and securities firms—one that is a major target of the Occupy Wall Street movement—may seem an unlikely choice as a national corporate spokesperson for an organization dedicated to human rights, and that's exactly what the Human Rights Campaign had in mind when it tapped Goldman Sachs chieftain Lloyd Blankfein as an advocate for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. This move put the Human Rights Campaign right in the center of the national discourse and, not incidentally, displayed a different, more "human" side to Blankfein and his company.

With this national campaign, Blankfein is stepping onto a prominent and politically charged stage—at a time when his public persona is at a low ebb, reports The New York Times. In recent years, he has been pilloried for outsize pay packages and rewarding the type of risk-taking that led to the financial crisis.

“I’m Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, and I support marriage equality,” Blankfein says in a campaign video. “America’s corporations learned long ago that equality is just good business and is the right thing to do.”

Fred Sainz, an executive with the Human Rights Campaign, told the Times the organization sought Blankfein, in part, because he is an unexpected messenger.

For Blankfein, and by extension Goldman Sachs, to align himself with a very visible, socially progressive cause might be a way to gain some standing with an audience that may distrust the firm. For the Human Rights Campaign, choosing such a public figure in an industry generally not associated with their cause may provide exposure to a different audience. And, at the very least, it helped the organization land coverage in the Gray Lady, something all PR pros can strive for. 

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg

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