March 22, 2012 -- Investment and securities giant Goldman Sachs is reportedly planning to conduct a company-wide email scan for derogatory terms used to describe clients in the wake of former employee Greg Smith's op-ed column disparaging the company.
Smith, who was a Goldman Sachs employee for years, ripped his former employer in a New York Times op-ed piece after resigning earlier this month for what he perceived as the firm's increasingly unethical business. Smith said he saw derogatory language used by no less than five Goldman managing directors to refer to clients.
Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein told partners in a conference call this week that the company is taking Smith's claims seriously, and will be instituting a company-wide email review, a source familiar with Blankfein's phone call told Reuters.
The scan of company emails will specifically look for the term "muppet" -- a derogatory term commonly used in the United Kingdom -- along with any other negative language.
Blankfein and COO Gary Cohn defended the company and its culture last week in a memo to employees, saying "in a company of our size, it is not shocking that some people could feel disgruntled."
"Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion," Blankfein and Cohn wrote in the internal memo. "But, it is unfortunate that an individual opinion about Goldman Sachs is amplified in a newspaper and speaks louder than the regular, detailed and intensive feedback you have provided the firm and independent, public surveys of workplace environments."
Smith, who was Goldman Sachs' head of equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, was apparently on a fast track to success, as he was promoted directly from an analyst role to associate, then vice president without a degree from business school, and reportedly had a history of high performance.
The broad review of language used in company emails comes because Smith is no longer with the firm and did not refer to specific people in his op-ed column.