Former Goldman Sachs Executive, Greg Smith, is exactly the kind of wake up call corporate America needs right now. Whether you think he’s got shit for brains or monster balls for broadcasting his resignation from Goldman Sachs to the world via his scathing New York Times Op Ed piece is irrelevant. Does it really matter whether he’s telling the truth, embellishing it, or flat out obliterating it? Does it really matter whether he was party to the same despicable behavior he publicly decries? Does it really matter what his motives are? No, no, and no. Not when you’re Goldman Sachs it doesn’t. Not when you’re one of the 35,000 employees who still show up to work there everyday. And certainly not when you’re one of their clients.
Will this all blow over? Probably. Is Goldman Sachs a really good company that does a lot of really good things and employs a lot of really good people? You bet. But they got a big slap upside their heads this week. And I hope that once the sting subsides, they’ll be left with one very important lesson. And that lesson is not that the American workforce is terribly tired. We all already know that. No, the lesson is that the American workforce is terribly tired and you, Corporate America, have very little control over what they do about it.
If you ask me, the Greg Smith’s of the world are going to start crawling out of the woodwork. This kind of stuff is gold for any number of business media outlets and I can promise you they’ll be digging for it. The 1oo Best Companies to Work for in America?* Screw that; how very trite! Why not the 1oo Worst Companies to Work for in America? That’s just so much more interesting. It blows my mind that Amazon isn’t teeming with an entire non-fiction genre devoted to “messed up employment experiences” – I mean some of it comes from “the land of you can’t make this shit up.” Why aren’t we hearing more about it?
Well I think we will. I think Greg Smith has given those with a voice at an entirely different level permission to share…like really share. Given the way the media and general public have reacted to his claims, I’d say they’re clamoring for more of it. Because more of it will be just what they need as they deal with all the crap their job brings: vindication. It’s the workplace’s version of “can I get an ‘amen’, someone?!” So what can you do if you’re a leader of a company looking to stem the tide? Really? Man, if you’re worried about stemming the tide it’s already too late.
Image Credit: The Drucker Exchange
*Interestingly enough, Goldman Sachs was ranked #33 on this year’s list.