Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein dedicated a portion of his annual letter to defending his firm’s tradition of sending alumni to government positions.
“Gary was not the first person from Goldman Sachs to join the government, and we hope and expect that he will not be the last,” Blankfein wrote of Gary Cohn, his former no. 2 executive who left in December to join President Trump’s administration.
He said the kinds of people that Goldman recruits “develop the skills to make a contribution in large, complex organisations and the expertise to help drive economic progress and job creation.”
Cohn is one of several former Goldman Sachs employees to have joined Trump’s administration. Others are Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; chief strategist Steve Bannon; James Donovan, who will be Mnuchin’s deputy; and the former president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, Dina Powell, who has been named deputy national security adviser.
The trend extends beyond Trump’s tenure. At least five Goldman Sachs CEOs have gone into government service, including Hank Paulson, who in 2006 left his role as chief executive to become Treasury Secretary.
“We will continue to encourage our people to contribute to government service if they are fortunate enough to be asked,” Blankfein wrote.
Here’s Blankfein’s full comment:
“Gary was not the first person from Goldman Sachs to join the government, and we hope and expect that he will not be the last. Five of my most recent predecessors went into government service, and that has not been by happenstance. One ethic that has long pervaded Goldman Sachs is a commitment to public service if one is given the opportunity to serve. And that has been true over time and in many of the geographies in which we operate.
We recruit people who are oriented to the larger world, and their jobs require them to be both outwardly and inwardly facing. In the process, they develop the skills to make a contribution in large, complex organisations and the expertise to help drive economic progress and job creation.
We have been criticised for the fact that some of our colleagues, after long careers at the firm, have moved to work in the public sector. The charge is that Goldman Sachs is able to extract certain advantages that others cannot. In fact, the opposite is true. Those in government bend over backward to avoid any perception of favoritism.
We are proud of our tradition of leadership and public service and believe it is a core part of our culture. That is why we will continue to encourage our people to contribute to government service if they are fortunate enough to be asked.
We also have contributed our expertise and knowledge to broader public policy issues, such as fiscal policy. And, when certain issues impact our people, we have not hesitated to speak up on their behalf. In the past, we have commented on marriage equality, and more recently, immigration policy, because they both affect our ability to hire and retain people from the broadest pool of talent. We will continue to express our views on policies that affect our people, our business and the long-term interests of economic growth.”
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