Goldman Bans Naughty Words

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The most widely-reported moment during the Goldman Sachs Senate hearings in April was an exchange between Senator Carl Levin and Goldman executives. Levin was looking to humble the bankers and he found ammunition in a 2007 e-mail written by Goldman's Thomas Montag. "Boy, that Timberwolf was one shitty deal," read the e-mail. It was an acknowledgment that the bank had peddled dubious security assets and Levin ran with it:

You knew it was a shitty deal and that's what your email showed... You're trying to sell a shitty deal and it's your top priority... Should Goldman Sachs be trying to sell a shitty deal?

Levin repeated the expletive dozens of times, lording it over the captive financiers. Coming away from the hearing, Goldman evidently did learn at least one lesson: stop cursing. The Wall Street Journal reports that the vaunted investment firm is banning profanity in all company e-mails:

The New York company is telling employees that they will no longer be able to get away with profanity in electronic messages...which is being enforced by screening software. Even swear words spelled with asterisks are out...

The new edict—delivered verbally, of course—has left some employees wondering if the rule also applies to shorthand for expletives such as "WTF" or legitimate terms that sound similar to curses...

Goldman's no-swearing dictate covers instant messages and texts from company-issued cellphones and emails. Verboten emails could get bounced to the compliance department. Others might be blocked completely, depending on the severity of the language.

There are no set disciplinary measures for offenders, but habitual profaners will be summoned by their managers to discuss cleaning up their language.

In case you missed the Levin-Goldman exchange:

(Bonus: a hip hop remix can be found here)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.