(Bloomberg) — An ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker said a London fund used the fact that she worked at the storied U.S. investment bank against her, telling her to remove any reference to it on her resume.
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Sedef Koktenturk sued London-based Genesis Investment Management for sex discrimination after she was fired following informal complaints about her management style.
She alleged in the suit that the fund applied double-standards when it came to the behavior of her and her male colleagues, and that if she were a man, her “success and direct approach” would have been prized by the firm. Genesis denies the claim and is defending the suit.
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The resume deletion allegation doesn’t form part of the sex discrimination claim and the tribunal won’t need to rule on whether it happened.
During her cross-examination in the case, Koktenturk was asked if she believed the firm showed her bias because she previously worked at Goldman Sachs, where she was an executive director in the investment management division.
“The discrimination is that there’s a stereotype of culture they think is at Goldman Sachs” and those stereotypes are “used to discriminate against women,” she told London employment judges at a hearing on Jan. 26. “I was told to remove Goldman Sachs multiple times from my CV. They’re using the same definitions to stereotype me and they think it’s the culture.”
Koktenturk’s lawyer and Goldman Sachs declined to comment. Goldman Sachs is not involved in the case.
“We refute the allegation, made for the first time by Ms. Koktenturk during her oral evidence to the tribunal last week, that she was asked to remove a reference to any of her previous employers on her CV,” a spokesperson for Genesis said by email. “As a firm we are proud to have recruited professionals from across the global investment market and we treat all of our Genesis colleagues with dignity and respect.”
An email sent by Koktenturk’s line manager to another colleague referred to her “irrational” hours, which perhaps “comes from Goldman.” Chris Ellyatt, the Genesis managing director who sent the email, said in a witness statement that his comment about “this not being Goldman Sachs” was entirely related to her not needing to put in “silly hours.”
“The fact that Sedef had previously worked at Goldman Sachs did not give me a pre-determined view of her,” Ellyatt said in the statement. “That said, in the finance industry it is well understood that Goldman Sachs has a unique culture and it demands much of its employees — there is a very strong ‘presenteeism’ ethic which we do not have at Genesis.”
Koktenturk, who was an associate partner at Genesis at the time of her dismissal in April 2020, took a two-year break from finance to train and compete for Turkey at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and did stints at Goldman Sachs before and after her Olympic experience.
In her witness statement, she said Genesis partners tried to distinguish it “from the Goldman Sachs (and the traditional city) emphasis on long hours, hard work and high expectations.” Yet nobody told her anything along the lines that Genesis didn’t push people too hard and that having a happy team was prioritized, she said.
“Ultimately, Genesis is an asset management company, and, like any asset management company, their number one priority is making money,” Koktenturk said.
She said at points she was working similar hours to when she was at Goldman Sachs.
(Updates with details from Koktenturk’s witness statement)
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