Goldman Sachs is making a major change to its branding: Employees can now wear khakis.
The titan of Wall Street has long been known for suits and ties, enforcing a strict dress code across its many offices. However, the company had started to relax the dress code in its tech division to attract young programmers and stay competitive with workplaces like Facebook and Google.
Now the company is rolling out changes across the board.
Historically known as a white-shoe investment bank, Goldman Sachs traditionally required formal business attire. But since 2017, the bank began relaxing its dress code for employees in the technology division and other new digital businesses. This created a divide in the workforce as clear as denim versus pinstripes.
Like other Wall Street banks, Goldman has been competing to secure the best employees. Large technology firms and hedge funds often have more relaxed offices and perks.
Tuesday’s announcement was also meant to bring the bank’s traditional policies up to date for its younger workforce. More than 75 percent of Goldman employees are members of the Millennial or Gen Z generations—people born after 1981.
The memo to employees promised to rely on personal responsibility instead of hard and fast do’s and don’ts.
The memo declined to get into specifics and instead left it up to individual employees to decide what’s appropriate under the new code.
“All of us know what is and is not appropriate for the workplace,” the memo read, according to Reuters.
It also included a reminder for employees to dress in line with clients’ expectations.
“Of course, casual dress is not appropriate every day and for every interaction, and we trust you will consistently exercise good judgment in this regard,” the memo said.
The move signals an effort by the bank’s leaders to change the culture of the storied company.
[CEO David Solomon] – also an electronic dance DJ – marks a new era of leadership for Goldman Sachs after 12 years under the helm of Lloyd Blankfein.
He has promised more transparency while the bank has also made strides into retail banking.
Goldman Sachs, the world’s most influential investment bank, has faced criticism for its role in the global financial and euro zone debt crises.
It was famously described by Rolling Stone magazine as the “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” for its relentless pursuit of money.
The response has been mixed on social media. Some see the changes as long overdue, while others see them as a departure from a well-established brand image.
Coming soon: Hawaiian shirt day at Goldman https://t.co/EuLCD9s72F
— Nate Becker (@natebecker) March 5, 2019
Goldman, the year 2003 is holding on line 2. Should I send to voicemail? https://t.co/ZXKI2kcZTb
— Sean McLaughlin, NLD 📈 (@chicagosean) March 5, 2019
Goldman Sachs adopted a firm wide "flexible dress code" for all its roughly 36,000 employees, a move that would have been unimaginable for some (including these fictional) Wall Street bankers of yore pic.twitter.com/YSzm2Ud8xS
— Elizabeth Dilts (@eadilts) March 5, 2019
Goldman Sachs embracing "biz casual" 😎 pic.twitter.com/2I66TX8Xtw
— Liz Hoffman (@lizrhoffman) March 5, 2019
The news is a reminder of how internal culture is a part of public perception and brand image. Something as simple as an employee dress code can have major impact on how outsiders perceive your organization.
The changes also provide an opportunity for Goldman Sachs to burnish a brand that has become tarnished over the last 20 years.
A decade ago, Goldman Sachs became shorthand for politicians demonizing Wall Street greed as a cause of the financial crisis. On top of that obstacle, the industry’s thicket of regulations and decades-old mainframe infrastructure made it seem stodgy to a generation of computer scientists looking to move fast and break things. With the backlash mounting over Facebook Inc.’s sale of consumer data, Amazon’s influence over a struggling brick-and-mortar retail industry and Apple Inc.’s creation of allegedly addictive devices, finance may be becoming an easier sell.
That’s not to say there isn’t more work to do. Winner acknowledged that the firm’s intense focus on reaching consensus can be frustrating. And many employees in other parts of the bank remain skeptical, though they’re coming around, he said. Adding new colleagues used to doing things differently should help, he said.
“This is a big company, making a strategic change,” Winner said. “The simple thing would be to recruit a team from all the big financial players. But we’re specifically recruiting from Silicon Valley. And big tech.”
What do you think of the company’s changes, PR Daily readers?
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