Trapped in the unwanted spotlight of moral ambiguity, investment bank Goldman Sachs has come back with a carefully-worded response to recent allegations by a former employee that the internal culture of the firm had made its environment “toxic and destructive”, and serving its clients was no longer its top priority.

In a statement from Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein and President Gary Cohn, the firm hit back at an op-ed in the New York Times on “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs” by Greg Smith, said to be the company's former head of equity derivatives business in Europe. Refuting Mr. Smith's claims, Mr. Blankfein said: “In a company of our size, it is not shocking that some people could feel disgruntled. But that does not and should not represent our firm of more than 30,000 people.” Mr. Blankfein went on to argue that it was unfortunate that an individual opinion about Goldman Sachs had been “amplified in a newspaper and speaks louder than the regular, detailed and intensive feedback you have provided the firm and independent, public surveys of workplace environments.”

The statement by the firm also cited a range of feedback surveys that indicated that the firm provided “exceptional service” to employees and that Goldman Sachs was recently named “one of the best places to work in the United Kingdom, where this employee resides”. Goldman was also the highest placed financial services company for the third consecutive year and was the only one in its peer group to make the top 25, Mr. Blanfein pointed out.

His remarks were seen as a direct retort to Mr. Smith's grim predictions about how the change in the culture of Goldman might affect its fortunes. In his op-ed Mr. Smith said, “When the history books are written about Goldman Sachs, they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and the president, Gary D. Cohn, lost hold of the firm's culture on their watch. I truly believe that this decline in the firm's moral fibre represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival.”

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