Unless you live on the moon, you probably know that a resignation letter from a banker at Goldman Sachs has become the latest internet sensation. Greg Smith, an executive director, announced his resignation in the New York Times. He attacked the culture at the bank, declaring it to be ‘morally bankrupt’ and ‘toxic and destructive.’ Smith even alleges that, ‘Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal email.’ Talk about an incendiary exit. You can read the full text of his letter here.
Smith’s resignation is a stark reminder that clients should always be at the centre of everything any organisation does. His letter outlines his concerns that ‘the interests of the client continue to be sidelined…I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm.’
In an era of uncertainty and fears about sustainability, it’s all too easy for organisations to fall into the pattern of constantly firefighting, losing sight of their mission and potentially even their stakeholders’ interests. That includes charities. Whilst the ethos of the third sector and investment banks is clearly very different, I agree with Smith’s mantra that supporting the long term interests of clients is key to building a stronger organisation.
In tough times, whatever kind of organisation we work in, stakeholders must always come first. The charity sector has always been exceptional at this. Let’s not forget that, however hard the situations we’re currently facing are. It’s our passion for putting the people that we help first, and for the difference we make, that will get us through the challenges ahead.