Goldman Sachs said on Monday that it would pay $215 million to settle a lawsuit that accused the bank of systematically discriminating against thousands of female employees. The money will be divided among about 2,800 women, and the bank agreed to change some of its practices.
The individual payout amount itself is less than it might appear: Subtracting legal fees, it comes to roughly $47,000 per plaintiff. Still, the settlement is the latest effort to make Wall Street address what critics say are years of unequal and unfair treatment of female workers.
The lawsuit accused Goldman of hindering women’s career advancement and paying them less than their male colleagues. It took particular aim at the firm’s performance review process, which they said favored men, setting them up for promotions and higher pay.
Filed in 2010 by three former employees, the suit was granted class-action status in 2018 and covers women who held associate or vice president titles in Goldman’s investment banking, investment management and securities divisions. A trial had been scheduled for June.
“I have been proud to support this case without hesitation over the last nearly 13 years and believe this settlement will help the women I had in mind when I filed the case,” Shanna Orlich, one of the lawsuit’s original plaintiffs, said in a statement.
Jacqueline Arthur, Goldman’s head of human capital management, said that the firm was “proud of its long record of promoting and advancing women and remains committed to ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace for all our people.”
Wall Street has sought to address gender inequality and discrimination in recent years, after having faced a long list of complaints. Smith Barney, for instance, paid $150 million in 1998 to settle a lawsuit claiming that it tolerated a hostile work environment that included pay discrepancies and derogatory language toward women.
Since becoming Goldman’s chief executive, David Solomon has spoken of trying to increase diversity at the firm, including by setting targets for how many of its new hires should be women. Last year, the bank said that a record 29 percent of its newest class of partner managing directors, its highest rank, were women.
Beyond the payout, the settlement stipulates that Goldman will hire independent experts to study its performance review process and conduct pay-equity studies for three years, as well as change how it presents the case for career advancement with vice presidents.