This morning, National Legal and Policy Center presented a proposal at The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.‘s annual shareholder meeting that asks the board to implement a policy to require the Chair of the Board of Directors to be an independent member from the CEO. In other words, the same executive could not hold both roles.
Goldman Sachs’s board of directors opposed our proposal, as explained on page 81 of the company’s proxy statement. NLPC filed a response to the board’s opposition statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission weeks ago.
NLPC also filed two other reports with the SEC: one that opposed three “Net Zero” proposals (Nos. 9, 10, and 11 on the proxy statement), and another that supported a proposal (No. 7 on the proxy statement) sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which sought a congruency report about Goldman Sachs’s China-focused ETFs to assess whether they are aligned with the company’s commitments to support human rights.
I am Paul Chesser, director of the Corporate Integrity Project for National Legal and Policy Center, and we have proposed that the board adopt an independent chair policy – Proposal Number Six.
I would like to declare a moratorium on the word “robust.”
Goldman Sachs argues that in evaluating its leadership every year, that they have a “robust” process.
The company also says it has a “robust” lead independent director role.
In response to Mr. Chevedden’s proposal (Number 5), Goldman Sachs claims to have “robust” oversight mechanisms.
I’m sorry, but Goldman Sachs’s processes look anything BUT “robust.”
To many of us outside observers and shareholders, they look pretty weak.
I will now highlight a few examples why I think the Company’s procedures are NOT “robust,” especially under the leadership of the current Chairman and CEO.
Number 1. There have been reports about multi-million-dollar settlements over a sexist culture at the company, and as we all know, leadership needs to be accountable for the culture that is allowed to propagate.
This demonstrates anything BUT “robust” accountability.
Number 2. The Chairman and CEO signed Goldman Sachs on to a statement to oppose the Georgia Election Integrity Act, which is now law.
The statement opposed “any discriminatory legislation’ that makes it harder for people to vote.”
This was a blatant lie about what the law would do, and that was proven in the 2022 Georgia election turnout results, which reached near-record levels.
This is just one of many examples of virtue signaling and weighing into politics unnecessarily, which discredited Goldman Sachs.
Again, this displays less than “robust” accountability.
Number 3: After my presentation you will hear a proposal from another shareholder that addresses Goldman Sachs’s business entanglements with state-owned Chinese companies in light of the communist nation’s ghastly human rights record, which according to the U.S. State department, includes oppression, censorship, slavery, organ harvesting, torture and genocide.
So I ask Goldman Sachs’s “robust” accountability leaders: Does it look good to demogogue the Georgia election law, when you’re in business with the Chinese communists?
Number 4: Speaking of bad looks, there have been numerous reports about the use of company jets for the Chairman/CEO’s personal travel, some of which allegedly transported him to his side hustle gigs as a music DJ and as add-ons for business trips.
And he reportedly utilized bank employees to help manage his music schedule, and he solicited Goldman Sachs clients to help advance his side career.
Now I know “allegedly” and “reportedly” don’t necessarily make things true, but where there’s smoke there’s usually fire.
And even though the Company claims it is reimbursed for personal use of planes, how does this look when you eventually have to lay off thousands of employees, as it did earlier this year?
It also comes across poorly when you your junior bankers feel pressured to work almost 100 hours per week. Needless to say, this does not keep them very “robust.”
Number 5: Shortly you will hear from three different shareholder proponents about Goldman Sachs’s failure to track with so-called “Net Zero” goals, and you will hear criticism of its continued financing of fossil fuel projects.
The heat the Company receives from climate pressure groups always cites politicized sources which they claim represents THE SCIENCE, which is always boiled down into a summary report that harps on the worst case hypothetical scenarios.
They are all based on data-fed computer models that are “garbage-in-garbage-out.”
There IS NO scientific consensus, folks – much less one that seeks to destroy our affordable and efficient energy industry.
The renewables solutions these activists demand are unrealistic regarding the amount of power they generate; regarding the amount of land, water, metals and mineral resources they demand; and regarding how much so-called renewables like wind, solar, and electric vehicles actually themselves pollute.
But the Company, instead of examining legitimate science and checking the dubious sources that these pressure groups cite, instead capitulates and creates green-sounding policies to try to pacify them.
Then Goldman Sachs gets accused of “greenwashing” anyway.
You can’t win with the environmental left, so don’t even try.
A “robust” leadership structure bold enough to stand up to these propagandists could make a real difference at Goldman Sachs.
As you can see from these examples, whatever accountability there has been for the Chairman and CEO has been anything but “robust.”
It’s about as “robust” as Bud Light.
So can we find another adjective to describe it, please?
Read NLPC’s shareholder proposal for The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. annual meeting here.
Read NLPC’s response, filed with the SEC, to the Goldman Sachs board’s opposition to our shareholder proposal here.