Goldman partner’s sexually explicit video led to millions in compensation

(Bloomberg) — A partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. agreed to pay a woman millions of dollars to resolve a complaint so sensitive it was handled at the highest level of the company.

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According to more than half a dozen people with knowledge of the matter, the manager accidentally included a sexually explicit shot of himself in a work-related video sent to a junior employee. The incident, which took place in 2020, quickly prompted an internal review overseen by senior executives including CEO David Solomon, the people said.

Goldman noted that the partner — Adam Dell, a fintech entrepreneur and brother of billionaire Michael Dell — did not realize the camera was filming beyond the work project and unknowingly sent the entire video file while working remotely, they said Persons. When he left a few months later, the firm named him advisory director, an honorary title given to those who could leave on good terms and continue to help the bank, according to a news report at the time. The woman went too.

The previously unreported incident sparked debate within the company. Some executives were secretly annoyed that they thought the woman was so quick to seek legal advice, arguing that if she had been traumatized by the video she would have simply stopped watching it, according to several of the people who described reactions. Others within the company said such attitudes are a testament to a culture that still fails to grasp the distrust built up over decades of power imbalances and lacks empathy for how such an incident could be destabilizing.

Adam Dell, 53, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. “The reporting contains significant factual errors,” said Goldman spokesman Tony Fratto, without elaborating on the errors.

Goldman Sachs has stated that improving gender diversity in its leadership is a top priority, and has struggled with a tradition of some women feeling unwelcome. In another matter, last month the company settled one of the largest class-action lawsuits alleging gender discrimination in Wall Street history. And in November, Bloomberg reported an eight-figure settlement with a partner who accused senior executives of promoting a harmful work culture.

Dell, a longtime venture capitalist, joined Goldman Sachs in 2018 when the Wall Street bank acquired a personal finance app he founded, Clarity Money, to expand into consumer banking. He joined as a partner – a rare feat at Goldman – and worked to advance the push onto Main Street.

After the incident, the woman hired an attorney, who is seeking about $30 million on her behalf, citing the content of the video and the likelihood of damage to her career, the people said. Dell eventually reached an agreement for a much smaller amount, which those with knowledge of the pact described as a multimillion-dollar settlement.

The people who described the video and its aftermath asked not to be named when discussing the confidential matter. Bloomberg did not name the woman involved because she never went public with her complaint.

There are concerns on Wall Street about the way abuse allegations have been dealt with in the past, said Arjuna Capital's Natasha Lamb, a prominent activist investor who focuses on social issues.

“I don't expect a company to issue a press release on every sexual harassment complaint,” she said. “But as an investor I would expect an annual report on the number of incidents and how they are being handled and not just being swept under the rug.”

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