CSR / Sustainability angle of the Goldman Sachs New York Times letter

Today’s post is about a resignation letter from the former Goldman Sachs executive director, Greg Smith. This is nothing out the ordinary by itself. What is special about this resignation is the way he did this and a clear sign how much of a challenge CSR / Sustainability activities and best practice within the finance sector are. But let’s start with the way Greg Smith resigned.

This is the article in the New York Times (NYT):  Why I am leaving Goldman Sachs

It is a great but very sad read at the same time. A gripping account of how much his company but also the corporate culture has changed for the worst since he joined. If only half of his description is true then customers at Goldman Sachs are not being treated how they should be and the overall culture in the business is in need of a complete overhaul to put it mildly!

The CSR / Sustainability angle
This story has an interesting CSR / Sustainability in my view as well. It just shows how much of a mindset-change is needed within the financial sector. In this situation CSR / Sustainability practices can only be then a side-act. It seems to me that not even the basics of good business leadership exist at Goldman Sachs taking Greg Smith’s description into account. What possibilities to make a difference  does a CSR / Sustainability specialist have in this kind of business environment? NONE.
We might just witness a good example of how a business sector can be pre-CSR / Sustainability capabilities at the moment. The first rule for Goldman Sachs now can only be to get their house in order first. And when this is done, CSR / Sustainability could be back on their agenda. What a fascinating case study that will be!

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