As the #MeToo movement has gathered pace, Wall Street has remained a glaring exception. There have been a few high-level departures here and there – perhaps Harold Ford Jr. is the domino that sets off a cascade – but accusations haven't nearly reached scale of those in politics and entertainment.
Perhaps it's just a different era on Wall Street. Undoubtedly there are still lingering redoubts of sexual atavism amongst Manhattan financiers – we're looking at you, Sam Isaly – but the unbridled, coke-fueled menace and debauchery of yore is mostly a memory. Long gone are the days when it wasn't uncommon to hear the sounds of G-strings snapping and ass cheeks clapping as they issued forth from the executive offices of Wall Street.
Out west, however, it's a different story. Take the beleaguered Banc of California, currently a favorite of anonymous shorts and federal regulators. This week a former managing director by the name of Heather Endresen filed suit against the lender over wrongful termination and sundry other allegations. Including...
[The company’s then-chief financial officer] used company funds to pay for strippers and would coerce junior employees to have sex with him, Endresen said in the suit. He also used drugs at work and pressured other employees to join him, Endresen alleged.
Where did this guy think he was, SoFi? (To be fair to Banc of California, though, no word on whether any toilets were broken under the weight of intra-office passions or boob jobs offered to subordinates.)
Anyway, these things happen, let's just hope the HR department stepped up to the plate...
She said she was told by the lender’s in-house counsel that the company didn’t have a policy prohibiting employees from engaging in sexual activity in the workplace or using corporate funds to pay for strip clubs.
OK, this is starting to look a bit SoFiesque. It's one thing to have a rogue executive making it rain company cash at the strip joint and sleeping with every sentient being in the office. It's another for company lawyers to take all that in and decide, hey, no harm no foul! A mature firm would immediately rectify the situation using a responsible and appropriate level of hush money.
This isn't to say that every financial institution in the golden state is crawling with lechers and unchecked libidos. But compare the tally of resignations along Sand Hill Road – Jurvetson, Pishevar, Caldbeck, and many others – to that of Wall Street. It's a whole different world out there.
Which gets us back to the question we've been asking ourselves incessantly over the past few months: Whither Wall Street's creeps? It could be that the ever-cautious big banks just got out ahead of this way sooner than everyone else, particularly as they sought self-consciously over the last decade to make staffs less white and less male? But given what we know about Wall Street's penchant for maintaining secrecy and settling things in-house, that seems a bit of a tidy explanation.