Last month, Reuters reported that Goldman Sachs was planning “to begin” using personality tests to assist it in hiring personnel “in its banking, trading and finance and risk divisions.”
It’s highly unlikely that Goldman Sachs is just beginning to use personality tests since other major firms on Wall Street have been using them for at least three decades – and not in a good way.
The Reuters article was penned by Olivia Oran, who also wrote in June of 2016 that major Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and UBS were “exploring the use of artificial intelligence software to judge applicants on traits – such as teamwork, curiosity and grit.” The article further noted that one of the goals of the artificial intelligence software is to “avoid the expense of problem hires and turnover…”
All of the firms mentioned have experienced employees that, in their view, were “problem hires.” The public, however, has viewed those same employees as public interest-motivated whistleblowers.
In 2012, Goldman Sachs Vice President Greg Smith stunned the firm by submitting his resignation via an OpEd in the New York Times, charging the firm with a corrupt environment: “It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets,’ sometimes over internal e-mail,” Smith said. He called the environment at Goldman “as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.”
It takes a lot of guts to resign from Goldman Sachs via the New York Times. But there has been lots of gutsy whistleblowing by brilliant recruits with pristine resumes. Richard Bowen was a former Citigroup Senior Vice President who repeatedly alerted his superiors in writing that potential mortgage fraud was taking place in his division. At one point, Bowen emailed a detailed description of the problem to top senior management, including Robert Rubin, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary and then Chairman of the Executive Committee at Citigroup. Bowen’s reward for elevating serious ethical issues up the chain of command was to be relieved of most of his duties and told not to come to the office. Bowen testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in 2010. In 2011, Bowen made the ultimate gutsy move: he revealed the sordid details on the CBS program 60 Minutes.