Career Advice Mar 22 2012

No More 'Muppets' in Email at Goldman

By liz moyer

After an employee quit with a highly publicized critique of its culture, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has been scouring emails and other internal communications for evidence of workers using derogatory comments about clients.

The firm has been searching for "muppet"—which in British parlance generally means idiot—and other potentially derogatory terms since the former employee, Greg Smith, wrote in an opinion piece published by the New York Times on March 14 that he had seen five managing directors refer to clients as "muppets," sometimes in internal email, over the preceding 12 months.

Smith recently had disagreements with a new boss after some management changes in the firm's London operations. Goldman has been interviewing his co-workers and immediate superiors.

In response to the opinion piece last week, Goldman's Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and President Gary Cohn said that Smith's allegations didn't reflect the firm's values and culture, that they weren't aware that Smith expressed misgivings using the firm's anonymous complaint forum, and that they would be carefully examining the issues raised.

During a regularly scheduled partners' conference call this week, Blankfein provided an update on the firm's response, including the email searches.

A spokesman in New York, who confirmed the email searches, on Thursday said, "we take the concerns of our employees seriously and that is why we have looked into the allegations Smith made." Firms like Goldman have dedicated staffs that monitor employee communications for compliance and other reasons.

This story first appeared on

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