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Goldman Sachs exec's plea for racial equality goes viral

Vinjeru Mkandawire
·3 min read
Goldman Sachs has pledged $10m to help communities address racial inequality
Goldman Sachs has pledged $10m to help communities address racial inequality

A senior executive at Goldman Sachs has spoken out over racial inequality and his treatment at the hands of US police in an email viewed by thousands of staff.

Managing director Frederick Baba described his despair at George Floyd's killing by officers in Minneapolis - and called on top brass at the investment bank to do more for black workers.

Entitled "How it's going...", his email was sent to a few colleagues but has since been shared across Goldman and published on the bank's internal website.

The email, later published in full by Reuters, said: "To everyone who's asked me some variant of 'how's it going?' over the past month, I've probably lied. Or lacked the words to articulate it fully, but I'm giving it a shot.

"The past few months have been demoralizing, and family/friends/colleagues I've spoken with and listened to across the firm and country seem to share this feeling.

"I've learned history and why people live where they do and why those in positions of power often don't look like me. I've learned that bad things are more likely to happen to black people solely because they're black.

"I learned which of my friends' parents didn't want me in the house growing up and who would be blamed if my friends broke the law."

Mr Baba also told how Chicago police slammed him against the hood of one of their cars in 2011 after he matched the generic description of a black man wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

He wrote: "I went home and I cried for the first time in years."

At Goldman, Mr Baba said, more must be done by senior management to promote analysts and associates from different backgrounds.

He said: “A common bit of feedback from our junior colleagues is that while our firm expresses a commitment to equality and social justice up top, they don't necessarily see commitment and support from their direct managers."

How business can support racial equality
How business can support racial equality

The bank's chief executive David Solomon spoke out against "generations of racism" in a statement this week, and has since pledged $10m (£7.9m) to help communities address inequality. 

Mr Solomon also held a meeting to hear from senior black partners on the topic and has been responding individually. He personally responded to Mr Baba after reading the email.

A spokesman for Goldman said: “Feedback is an important part of our culture, and we are encouraging all our people to ask themselves how they can learn more and do better.”

The email emerged as other firms in the financial industry showed support for ethnic minority communities following global protests following Mr Floyd's death after a white policeman knelt on his neck. 

Bank of America has earmarked $1bn to help people and communities of colour affected by the pandemic, while Japan’s SoftBank has announced a $100m fund for investing in startups led by entrepreneurs from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Goldman's $10m racial fund will be handed out in addition to more than $500m of loans which the bank is making available for small businesses in dire straits. 

The bank said: “Goldman Sachs has deployed capital to communities in need around the world, with significant funds designated toward supporting communities of colour, who continue to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.