Jamie Fiore Higgins describes her life on Wall Street

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Jamie Fiore Higgins was interviewed on TV​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​On Wednesday, August 31, 2022. Her book, Bully Market, revealed shocking behavior by some Goldman Sachs employees.

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Jamie Fiore Higgins did not leave his job at Goldman Sachs plans to reveal the most personal, poignant and, at times, terrifying moments from her 18 years at the investment bank.

But after she stepped down in 2016, having risen through the ranks to become managing director – the second highest post behind partner – talks with people from outside the In that world she realized how terrible some of the things she had experienced were.

And so in the book “Bully Market: My Story of Money and Misogyny at Goldman Sachs,” which was published last summer, she harmed them.

Some news, from her early days in the late 1990s but also later, were sexual comments and inappropriate actions that she characterizes as “Wall Street white noise”. She says a colleague created a spreadsheet ranking the women’s body parts. She remembers being told she was only promoted “because [her] Vagina,” and a string of young male colleagues made it clear they would not respect her authority.

She also says that she saw sex and drug taking in the office, and work socials being held in strip clubs (she notes at the beginning of the book that some of the people who appeared there, who all are given pseudonyms, companions of various kinds. people she knew and the time of some events is condensed).

A Goldman Sachs spokesman said the company “strongly disagrees” with the characterization of its culture described in the book, which it called “anonymous allegations”.

“If Ms. Higgins had raised these allegations with our Human Resources department at the time we would have thoroughly investigated them and dealt with them severely,” the spokesperson told CNBC. CNBC could not independently verify to make any of the accounts made in the book.

Fiore Higgins also says that, despite the company offering breastfeeding rooms, she was once told that the practice would stop her career. And when she used them after having a baby, her co-workers made “mooing” noises at her, made rude gestures, and left a stuffed cow on her desk.

In another story, she tells about removing a colleague (who was having an affair with his client) from an account. She says he responded by pushing her against a wall and shouting in her face, spitting at her as he threatened her.

The answer

“I got hundreds and hundreds of messages from people, even now six months out, every day I get one or two people saying thank you for telling this story, you know so much that fits me,” she told CNBC.

Fiore Higgins is also upfront about the fact that she has been there for so many years, in a senior role that has been reached by far fewer women than men, writing that she “suffered and following harassment and abuse” and being “complicated in a broken system. .”

“For those 18 years, I was more concerned about Goldman Sachs than my husband, my children, my parents,” she told CNBC.

Staying this long despite being pushed to the brink of bankruptcy several times came down to a number of factors, she said. Adding to her working-class family’s finances, and making her immigrant parents, who had faced their own struggles and pressured her to succeed, proud.

In the book, when she first tells them about her six-figure salary in their New Jersey living room, her grandmother drops her knitting needles in shock. Within a few years Fiore Higgins has a salary of a million dollars (although this, she says, was only one dollar more than a man working below was earning at the time).

In addition there was the dangling carrot of a mammoth bonus, which was common throughout the financial industry.

Then there was the fear of condemnation; customizing things in the office that would bother an outsider; and addiction to the reputation of being “Jamie from Goldman.”

“What I realized was that Goldman was so good at making you feel like you were nothing without them, nothing without the name, nothing without the money,” she said. .

Going against the family

A big part of what finally got her to leave was using her carefully compiled “spreadsheet of freedom” when she says she reported an incident. She told HR a colleague she had seen racially and homophobically abusing a bartender.

“Months later my review tanks,” she told CNBC. “I knew they were going to make me pay for speaking out of turn, going against the family.”

A Goldman Sachs spokesperson told CNBC that they have a zero-tolerance policy for both discrimination and prosecution against employees for reporting incidents, and that any HR report is thoroughly investigated.

Fiore Higgins’ account represents one person’s experiences over a period of time. But she notes that others have spoken; it’s just that it’s still rare, and “taboo,” the words, to go into so much detail.

Last November, Goldman Sachs was reported to have paid more than $12 million to a former female partner to settle claims by senior executives who created a hostile environment for women. Goldman’s general counsel, Kathy Ruemmler, said in a statement to CNBC at the time that the company disputed the original Bloomberg article.

The bank is also involved in a long-running class action lawsuit with about 1,800 plaintiffs claiming the bank paid women less than men and that their performance reviews were compromised. hold back He is scheduled to go to trial in June. Goldman has denied any wrongdoing.

Eyes wide open

Amidst the #MeToo movement, wider social forces and the efforts of some senior managers, companies around the world have been making efforts, at least on paper, to promote diversity.

In the opinion of Fiore Higgins, things have improved in some areas, and there is a real desire among the C-suite to prevent systemic and casual discrimination. But institutions like Goldman could still apply the full power of their analytical skills and metrics to increase the number of women who make it to partner level, she said, and the type of environmental studies. create inclusiveness that has been shown to boost a company’s bottom line.

She is also aware of the importance of sending a message to some of her readers, including finding a trusted advisor who is far away from the company.

“I’ve had the opportunity to speak at a couple of universities. I’ve spoken to people who were like, ‘I got a job offer, I read your book, I’m afraid to leave’,” she said.

“It’s like, no, that’s not the answer. When I first started working at Goldman … their marketing thing was Minds Wide Open. I was pitching it—and it was just a field it was marketing. That was not what I saw. in the lived experience.”

“So I say to these students I’ve been talking to, men and women, you want to go in with your eyes open, you want to be very clear about what’s possible. Be prepared with language around it, know how to react and react when these things happen.”

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