''How it's going': Goldman Sachs exec's email on racism goes viral at firm

Topics Goldman Sachs | Racism

Credit: Fredick Baba's LinkedIn account
An email by a Goldman Sachs Group Inc employee about his experiences of racial injustice and criticising managers at the Wall Street bank for not supporting junior bankers from diverse backgrounds went viral at the firm this week.

The email by Frederick Baba, a managing director at the bank who is black, coincides with other Wall Street executives and companies speaking out against racial inequality after the death of an African American man, George Floyd, during an arrest by a white police officer who held a knee on his neck in Minneapolis on May 25.

On Tuesday, Bank of America Corp pledged $1 billion to help communities address economic and racial inequality. Goldman Sachs on Wednesday created a $10 million fund for racial equity. The CEOs of JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup and Wells Fargo & Co have also made statements denouncing racism and discrimination.

Baba, who works in Goldman's electronic trading business, according to his LinkedIn, initially sent the email with the subject line "How it's going..." to a group of bankers he works with on June 2 after Floyd's death led to sometimes violent protests across the United States.

But the letter ended up being so widely forwarded that it was seen by almost everyone at the bank - which employs around 38,000 people globally - including CEO David Solomon, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Solomon emailed Baba with a personal note in response, the person said without elaborating on what Solomon wrote. The letter has been posted on Goldman's internal website, the person 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," Baba wrote in the email seen by Reuters.

"...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," he wrote, going on to mention minorities hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Baba goes on to draw a detailed account of his experiences witnessing and being subjected to racial discrimination and aggression, including a 2011 encounter with Chicago police. Baba said the Chicago police slammed him against the hood of a cruiser because he matched the generic description of a black man wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

"I went home and I cried for the first time in years," he wrote.

At the end of the letter, Baba calls on his colleagues to take action to counter racial inequality, including at work.

"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 ... I'll be okay; look after them," he wrote.

Reuters contacted Baba and Goldman Sachs on Thursday to verify the contents of the email. Baba referred Reuters to a spokesman for the bank because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

"Thanks for reaching out and creating a forum to discuss these critical issues," he added.



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