Goldman Sachs took a big punch yesterday in the form of an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times by resigning middle manager Greg Smith. Mr. Smith aired quite a bit of dirty laundry. As I was reading the piece I wondered how a PR person would handle the poop storm.
After a night to sleep on it, here’s what I’d suggest. Do not deny the allegation. Take it very seriously. (No apparent laws were broken, mind you, but the piece implied traders cared more about making themselves and the firm money than putting custies first.) Do not deny — the piece is very believable. Step two Isolate. Suggest this behavior is isolated and was blown way out of proportion. Celebrate the other 95% of Goldman Sachs traders who go to work each day with no money lust in their hearts. Be indignant on their behalf.
Put into place the ability to report the type of Goldman people (the 5%) whom Mr. Smith spotlighted so they can correct their behavior. Suggest they go to “money lust anonymous.” It’s not a personality flaw it’s a disease. And I’m not being flip.
Acknowledge. Isolate. And Explain the behavior as maladaptive…a negative byproduct of the culture. Then turn the page. Peace.