During calls with Goldman, Campos said, the bank argued that employees don’t mind mandatory arbitration.
When the foundation cited Cristina Chen-Oster’s massive class-action lawsuit against Goldman, the response was that ongoing litigation couldn’t be discussed. A spokesman for the bank had no comment.
Then two of the leading firms that advise shareholders joined the fight, recommending that clients vote against Goldman management.
“More information on the impact that the company’s standard arbitration provision has on Goldman Sachs’s employees may bring information to light that could result in improved recruitment, development and retention,” Institutional Shareholder Services said in its report.
At April’s shareholder meeting, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, whose lawsuit against Roger Ailes led to his ouster and a film, asked bank shareholders to support the measure.
The foundation kept up pressure after losing the vote, asking to speak with a Goldman board director. They got John F.W. Rogers, the board’s secretary, who’s been a powerful figure inside the company for decades. Then the firm did something unusual: it budged, agreeing to do a study that the foundation expects will be released by next year’s shareholder meeting.
The victory wasn’t as dramatic as when little-known investment firm Engine No. 1 shook up the board of oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. in recent weeks. But the reverberations could be long-lasting.
“The burden is on Goldman Sachs to present a viable explanation for why they’re continuing to keep the policy in place,” said Meredith Benton, who founded consultancy Whistle Stop Capital and partnered with the group on the proposal. “They have a real opportunity to show how much their culture has changed by walking away from arbitration.”