‘Woman begged for expressing milk at Goldman Sachs’ – Irish Times

Women have accused investment banks of discrimination and sexual harassment for years. Almost none of them have done anything quite like Jamie Fiore Higgins.

Last week, Higgins published a 320-page account of her 17 years at Wall Street Power House, Goldman Sachs, where she held a coveted managing director position until her resignation in 2016.

Here’s a glimpse of what she said happened to her at the time:

She passed out at work, having returned sooner than her doctor advised after a miscarriage because a manager said the office was understaffed and when his wife had a miscarriage “she was fine after a few days.”

She felt as if she was going to pass out after a subordinate confronted her with an affair with a client who wrapped his hand under her jaw, hung it on the wall and yelled, “If I could, I would tear your damn face off.”

I sat near a man who asked his friend to do a “f**kability” rating of the women analyzers on Excel.

She stopped using the bank’s nursing rooms after her boss said she wouldn’t make her a manager if she was pumping milk instead of working. When she came forward anyway after having another baby, her male co-workers complained about “mooo” and pretended to be squeezing their breasts as she headed to the lactation center. One day she came back to find a toy cow on her desk.

Higgins does not spare herself. Coming from a humble background, she says she was seduced by the bank’s lavish bonuses and kept her mouth shut to move on.

The question is, five years after the #MeToo movement took off, has this behavior persisted in banks or elsewhere?

She finally quit when her career began to go downhill after she complained about a co-worker who got away with drunk racist adjectives at a karaoke bar worker on a night out with customers.

I found my eyes popping while reading the book, despite the author’s note at the beginning in which she cautioned against changing some names, the dialogue isn’t literal and many of the people at Goldman are “composite characters”.

Goldman said last week that she strongly disagrees with Higgins’ characterization of her culture and her “anonymous claims”. “Had Ms Higgins raised these allegations with our human resources department at the time, we would have investigated them thoroughly and addressed them seriously,” the bank said.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination or retaliation against employees who report misconduct.”

The question is, five years after the #MeToo movement took off, has this behavior persisted in banks or elsewhere?

“I think maybe it wasn’t as bad as it used to be,” says Higgins, who was commuted from her New Jersey home to Manhattan for a round of network TV interviews when I spoke to her last week.

She is confident that the physical abuse she suffered will not be tolerated any longer, although she says the man who assaulted her still works in the financial markets in New York.

Since publication of her book began, she has received “probably more than 100” letters from women with similar experiences, who are either still working in the banking industry, have recently left, or are working in private property, law, medicine and other male-dominated fields.

There are many people who remain silent because of non-disclosure agreements.

“I’ve had many messages on my various social accounts from people saying, ‘Oh my God, this is my book, I can’t write it because of my NDA.'”

Higgins considered filing a lawsuit but after the attorney explained the risks, she instead created a “freedom spreadsheet” to calculate the moment she would have enough financial security to resign. As she says, “It’s rare for people to walk away from work with the intention of never working on Wall Street again.”

She started writing classes after she left, and got a writing coach to help shape what became a bully market.

Now 46, she’s also an executive coach with a few dozen clients. She has a lot to say, starting with the advice she gives at the end of her book to any strong organization.

Three ideas stand out: make HR independent; Ensure that the ideals and principles established in the Executive Office permeate all ranks; And don’t pay or promote managers just for their financial contribution. Instead, hold them accountable for their character and the culture of their teams. Otherwise, everyone in the company might wake up one day to read something about themselves that they never expected to see. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022

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