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To Everyone Who’s Asked, ‘How’s It Going?’

2020-06-05

Fred Baba, a managing director in Goldman Sachs' Global Markets Division, reflects on a raw and honest email he wrote this week about his experience with racism and discrimination as a black man in America, as well as how his co-workers can best support the black community moving forward. Baba's email has been shared around the firm and was published as a Bloomberg Op-Ed

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I think for me personally and for a lot of the members of the black community here, Goldman Sachs. These things are done. extremely difficult for us. The process and so you ll be here- trying to show up trying to be your best work self and then, at times you don't even know if it now right, you're sitting in his room, call when you're talking about things- Talking about you're trying to service your clients, but then there is. This drop in this like cloud hanging over you about all of the other. things that are happening in the world and. You just don't know if you really care about arms. moment in time, Welcome to our weekly exchanges of Goldman Sachs market update objects. You were cognitive, copper, communications here, the firm we recognise its deftly, not the way. to be going about business as usual. Talking only What's going on financial markets with them
restrictions and protest. Taking place across the United States and around the world, we wanted the pause to comprehend the pain, the anger and sort out where we go from here part of that action eyes is creating some space. Dear more from somewhere, black colleagues today were joined by Fred Bob managing director of global markets, division Fred, were very raw and honest and direct well this week to his colleagues about his experiences white men, America, since his family emigrated here and ninety nine, that email was shared all around the firm shared on our internet. Infrared is joining us here today to talk. a bad but Importantly, how is balancing is day job against this backdrop, in what she recognized we have common sacks can do just support or coworkers neighbours and friends in a sustainable and prolonged whitewash? problem Fred and thanks for me, in the time five hundred, so let's all the quick control.
How are we built the firm manner in which you what your focus here? Ah, yes, I join the firm is six years ago within the rates business arm, and so I work on our great systematic market making trading dusk, so We focused on electronic trading in liquid rates, basically across the globe, but primarily focused within my local team. Here, on: U S, spirits cases busy time in that space for sure you wanna talk to its weak in. You were talking to seven heads Austen. Twenty Twenty has been on the trading for even before the recent and give us a somewhat the years felt like from your desk your physically in the office in and now promote jobs so, if you think about what we do with my bookmarks division, we engage in and facilitate risks transfer right, so one client have risk that they want or risk that they don't want. They come. Listen, we facilitate that process, and so
Sometimes it's extremely boring in your kind of just waiting for something to happen, and then sometimes it feels like Everything in the world was on fire, and it's just this big overwhelming thing, and one of the things that we probably don't even think about, like the first of May of this year. From my perspective, was the killing general. So am I on this the Iranian Revolutionary Guard General onward, kicked off aid armed conflict. between the? U S in IRAN, fortunately, that count. What was somewhat short lived was just this moment where no one really knew what was happening in the world and a kind of like stressful and terrifying. But then it was it by so many other things that have happened this year, such did like. If you tell someone oh yeah, like remember when we had a leader this year, like people might not even remember this thing, because we had this armed conflict with IRAN. We had the impeachment proceedings for President New United States, and then we had
people fully beginning the process, the global pandemic, that was combination, and then On top of that, we also have the collapse of the OPEC plus Coalition, Between largely Saudi Arabia and Russia, and you had stress on oil markets, which then feeds into debt capital markets with the west, and so all even before we started seeing multimillion in number unemployment, here in the United States. Is me shows too shut down the U S economy in order to curtail the crisis and so each of those things ended up themselves would have been a fairly noteworthy event in financial markets, but all of that kind of happened one after another after another in China. Just don't like this on ending Barrage of the world following up
sounds like within this backdrop that all the people involved markets are trying to do their jobs, trying to serve their clients and then top of that, as we are dealing with a navigating through all these delicate situations. The firm begins to move people too busy peace sites, and we began moving to this work from home that we're all now working under which would ask anyone within division. If this was even possible, we would just thought that this was man, s right. There was no real regulatory framework for people trading remotely within the Bookmarks division in rates like that was just not a thing that was allowed necessity. Why are that? We figure this out as a firm, and I think that all the work on the effort did a phenomenal job and point Baxter So on top of all these things, that people within the global market stability and were already dealing with, you have a number of trade events happening in the United States where Americans are being killed. Four under complete
The avoidable circumstances, I'm so you have the killing of about our very in Georgia, where he's running through a nearby neighbourhood, true members of that community kill him. And then you the killing of Brianna Taylor, where police? Officers are serving a no, not warrant a boyfriend, but it's a home invasion. He fires- these police officers and then calls nine one one as his partners weeding bleeding out and police officers stand outside of his own and then you also have obviously the killing of George fully on the street. And I think for me personally and for a lot of the members of the black community here Goldman Sachs, these things it is extremely difficult for us, the process and so you ll be here. Trying to show up trying to be your best work self and then, at times you don't even know if it now right you're sitting in his room, calling your talking about the things,
talking about you're trying to sort was your clients. But then there is this backdrop in this light cloud hanging over you about all of the others things that are happening in the world and You just don't know if you really care about At that moment we took that bring your whole self to work, but there are two problems with that these days. One is we're not we're not going to the office. in two. Bringing yourself to work with the wish in the pain you're describing almost makes it implies. Want to work. So how do you have You tried to get through and then serve survive, bring your again in them. Oh that environment? Who is impossible? Turkey so like on the one hand, and obviously this is unhealthy- and I'm trying to do better about this. I think there was a in time. During all this, where personally I love the work that I do I find
fascinating, I find it filling. and sometimes in my life. It feels like this. That makes sense in the place where I have control and can be my best most active self, and so one of the things, particularly with the work from home situation, where you don't have to deal with the meeting and I have friends that your meeting in the evening it becomes very easy to either. Throw yourself completely into your work in and burn out, or on the other end, you feel like You can't really focus on your job, because there are so many other things that are happening the tunnel, you personally and also touched the other members of european unity. The other thing that is obviously like working in the financial services industry, where one the things that we work on his wealth creation for our why it is very difficult to deal with that and swear
your particular privilege and experiences with the things that are happening to other people who look like you, and so, even if you personally are not being effect, by these things, because you're sitting in our comfortable home in Manhattan, nor in whatever part of the world you happen to be in like these things, are still mean the people who look like you, people who looked like your brothers and sisters and colleagues and friends and family members and see This is just hard and on the way, And I think that media is fantastic in that it allows people to appreciate things in a way that the other wise would not like. I don't think that the Eu S, alright movement, would have happened if it weren't for the evening news segments showing what peaceful protesters being beaten and homes the middle of the street and haven't dogs like On the one hand, I think it extremely powerful and extremely vital that we were able to see these things and
share these things as they happen, but, on the other hand, is extremely difficult To watch all of these things there's just like this heaviness to it that it is extremely difficult and so like it's in the context of all these things that your seeing on Instagram and all the news that you read before you log in the world, body and start work every day and then You have to figure out. How am I going to turn off and do? a job and be mine? solving Goldman Sachs, or am I going to let myself feel this thing potentially means that my productivity is going to be non existent because I'm gonna be sitting up looking at an email, but I'm trying to write and thinking about the fact that someone was on a man's room for a minute. What is six seconds and thinking All the people who saw that happening did nothing at least three police officers, but if you think about it than the fact that this happened at a very public space, how many p
watch this person die in. That is a very difficult thought to have in a zoom conversation with your team when someone talking about something that is clearly important to your business but Not necessarily a thing that you could focus on at that, so so that day, I'm at that you described Lead you to write an email recount here story. Over the past few decades, not not matches your story, but a broader scope, and you're scared you personal experiences with raise it work before In any sense like this so I try to be an ally and advocate I am not necessarily a feelings person and-
So many of my experience, it is are so personal. for me and so emotional. For me, did. I don't necessarily feel comfortable having them conversation, or at least I did not until fairly recently and answer some like them, The question is why I'm wrote the no, but I did. at the end of the day. The thing that I found to be profoundly uncomfortable, not because I want to do this thing, but because I was hearing from so many analysed and associates across our organization they wanted to be able to have these conversations, but they didn't feel that they were able to do. They didn't know how to bring up the fact that they like for several hours and then tried to show up for work or sat in a room while their siblings, cried thinking about the fact that any of these people that died
and trying to have these conversations with their family members training extended it themselves. Trying to get The people around them to understand why they are upset or angry or how much it would mean to that other people within the firmware just reach out and asked them how they were given. And then also, I think, on a slightly selfish. No because So many of the conversations that I begin went because I have like a fairly good relationship with my colleagues. with them checking in. It's not always clear how the have real conversation right. someone can say: hey how's, it goin and you say: yeah, it's fine or it's ok. It's, not always clear that that's an invitation to have a real conversation, and it's not always clear, but that's An invitation to have As we have a conversation as systemic,
this is on, and inequality and violence. In the United States. That conversation is a bummer. That's not a conversation that I get excited talk about, except to the extent that it can other people excited about fighting this injustice with me, but. It's one of those things that. you drop in conversation, and then everyone goes quite right like it's not, Oh hey how's it going yeah. I like I'm just coping with the fact that people are being murdered for no reason like that. Not. That's not an easy conversation to have, but it is a critical conversation to have it. People really are going to bring their whole cells to work We are actually going to build a community that supports all the people coming from all the different places they come in order to be here at open sets. So the first fire email is,
Everyone is asked me some burying of how's it going over the past month. I probably lied were lacking, words to articulate it fully. Giving it a shot very powerful opener. You ve got into this, but what will be hoping to to occur? washed by writing by right now. I mean, I think. Part of it was me, meaning the process. My feelings about the situation on. I was a wreck. This past me and I spent most of it in dead. I kept him oh, I want to go out, and then I kept thinking I can. I don't know where I would go. I dont know what I do. I don't know how to process this feeling have fun. One. I thought that someone needed to say something in a way that would speak to be
the experience of the people of color Goldman Sachs and the black experience of people here, Saxon, I also for myself needed to figure out how particularly this, all that. I had been feeling inside of me for the past seven days. And if there are a number of people who reached out to me afterwards, who had asked me how it was doing that very day who were not setting the response that they ended up receiving, but then so Thank me for being honest about it and. This is not. I think that we're not this particular moment in time with the current political climate. an administration if it were not the particular moment in time within bomb attacks with, our leadership both making stances on diversity and also challenging us to hold them accountable, and if
seen leadership from other people at the end was level and at the partner level, within the firms speaking to what it was that they were feeling at a time like that, I would have been able to say that you now certainly, is like extremely personal so bearing yourself, open sort of message to my colleagues right One of the things that was going through my mind, is my job is to be a manager of risk, and so the thing, the p need to be able to do is to trust my judgment and slimy be quantitative, be data driven, and I need to be solid and for me to have this death of emotion and show that too, calling them to be vulnerable in the way. This is anything, but I do necessarily even with my very close friends, unfortunately, Which, I think was falling part of the reason why I felt some terrible because you're living at home- in isolation, and you feel like all
things are happening around you and you don't really know how to deal with them. and those within that backdrop, that I just thought that I had to say something. I didn't really know what to say it's an email, but I started, or at least sixty in six different ways. And then I thought what is it about these events? that has been triggered in me, What is it about the past and I had taken in my life that cause need a process. These events, in a way that I did and how can I get people with You understand that at least some web. So One of the things we ve heard time and again, in the last several days these weeks is that sharing those stories like sharing your stories is, is different. Courageous, but it makes a huge difference for people, as is the senior persons managing reactors leader your story.
resonates with lots of people are beyond your immediate network, so share a little bit. That's right now the audience who hasn't NASA your email, you write about coming to him, in nineteen. Ninety with your family- and that was I was U fraught moment, an american racial history, How did you know? Rodney king had added that having them a new is as a new arrival here in Amerika. I think it all just. comes together in this part of one about the black spirits in the United States, and I think about a lot of my friends a lot of my colleagues. I feel like a lot of us, carry this racial. Trauma, then we don't necessarily know how to deal with, and so Sometimes we end up getting cracked olbinett whirling sobbing our eyes out about it. Sometimes we may extremely dark jokes about
the terrible things that happen to people who, like us, there's just this long, painful law with things that have happened, things and we ve seen happen to our friends- things that have happened in near recent history in this country and in other countries that came from and we are all just processing that in on the one hand, It builds a certain resiliency, yet it makes us people that we are, but on the other hand, it just gives you this almost inside you witness anger and the sadness that you don't really know how to deal with. Sometimes. See you you went in catalogued, I mean after run. Kings they're? Just tremendous injustices over the decades that you ve lived in America and seen in witnessing the list, is inexcusable inexcusably wall. perfectly long, seeing it already
me at least the list, so the rage that you must be feeling for me. I can't I can't I can't completely. See the world theorized course, but the exhaustion of the repetition of them. Why In your view, why are we still hear in in the year twenty twenty one We made several problems, so I did a lot of it is Europe's role and obviously We don't have enough time, but I think, What when I try to, for this reason, the United States. I think that there are two things that terrain. Current situation and allow these conditions to persist. I think When you think about the funding of the United States, the United States, a country was founded in such a way as to deny citizenship explicit. You just certain groups of people, and it was all designed as a country in such a way as to make war, structural changes, devil and so its way
Backdrop Fight for civil rights has a very long history in the United States, but I feel I want a lot of these things were not inevitable and it was entirely possible that the United States could have reconciled with the south in that slavery. What a persistent for longer is entirely possible that we wouldn't have jumped with some of the Jim Crow racism fed into the civil rights in men and some segregation, and still having dealt with a lot of that and so when you think about the United States as a country structurally It's just a lot of the history. in construction of this country, went to these injustices. also, when you think about it personal level. The way that I think about the world is that A person has a set of people, but view as war in the Aegean. You care about and are genuinely good people too, and so
when people talk about how we believe that everyone is a fundamentally good person when people talk about how they had positive interactions with any Cooper, and they could never imagined her being racists and she's a card carrying the role, and you probably voted for Obama. All these things I think for every person. There is a set of people that they view was people Andy, are naturally inclined to treat those p with a certain level of respect and dignity and advocacy. And to the extent that doesn't include women, it doesn't include members of a transgender algae BT community doesn't include black people Those people are not going to advocate for those groups and when those groups are in a position of disadvantage. Their ability to advocate for themselves is just limited, and so your ending up in a situation where those groups, Can't really do it on their own, because it's not really a problem of theirs. It's a problem of what.
Are: not people are willing to acknowledge their person, hooded, humanity, And so until more people who are not. Members of that group are also involved in this fight in view those people as people and see these engine Susan get as angry and upset and saddened by them and have their hearts breed. we're not going to be able to move forward as a country, because it is quite easy, as an individual in this country, the separate you're well being from the well being of other people the black person living in the United States, but also a managing director Goldman Sachs living in New York City in one of them while these countries in the world, like him There are so many ways that my life could have gone differently and there are so many people who have different sperience than I have, and so.
I can t say, oh well, most of the time, I'm not going to have these negative interactions with law enforcement anymore and, most of the time, all dressed in a particular way and most of the time I'll be around people and kind. Feel safe, and so this is a really my problem. think when our society doesnt treated as approach. For everyone in our society that a city, can be extremely judiciously. It's very hard for us to make progress, because People who are suffering for this from the start the ability to accept because they had the ability to fix it, then they wouldn't be suffering from it by construction, so you talked about, it carries it. Please use your own account, please you wrote about this note. Two thousand and eleven you live in a ball game in Chicago talk a little bit about what that was like someone gets, stopped professional, just go home, it was an extremely difficult experience for me, not because it was my worst interaction
with law enforcement, but because it was. An experience that hit me anymore, When I was just starting to feel good about myself and my professional prospect, so my position in my community and just like my starting to feel like a big deal right and obviously that was my lack of humility as I go out into the school, and I had this job and I'm a trader, and I get dataset about money and people who know me respect me and think that I'm smart, and obviously that shit transferring all be interaction that I have. And then I have this moment, a realization where I am extremely clothing. Enemy were heard in Chicago it. Doesnt have a lot of black people and- I understand the way that I view myself in the way that my colleagues and friends from college me is not the way that
to law enforcement officers. Do me in that moment and wasn't the same level of all. This person is smart. We will give them the benefit of the doubt. There was d we reports of a blackmail in this area who is stealing from homes, you are a blackmail in this area. clearly you are the person who was perpetrated this crime. You close the email by saying instead of reach yeah. Do you directly people cadets years their effort in their mission? In other ways, What are some of the ways? Do you think people outside the black community can really help is as true allies, not today, when it is fashionable to do so, but but in the months and years I think the two most him four things would be giving up time and money and having genuine relationships with people of different backgrounds
when you think about Rachel inequity in this country. There is a long history of it. Not in terms of policing and not just in terms of like which institutions people have access to, but also do you think about the way that our country is structured and where people live so many areas in the United States argued, are predominantly white or predominantly something else, and there Is it really that much integration in that part of the reason why it's very easy for people to be personalized Sperience, as of other people. I imagine there are a number of my colleagues who don't have meaningful relationships with people of color. They don't have meaningful relationships of black people or even they do have them here, Goldman Sachs been, would necessarily have them in their actual communities where they go back like. Some of the building there lived in in Manhattan. I have been the only black that building or there had been more black door men in.
Building than residents living in that building buildings with hundreds of people living in them. and so I think, until people are having these genuine relationships and until people are feeling that this is a fight that Amsterdam as well, I think it's going to be very difficult for us to see change, but I'm here a positive based on what I've seen and based on the responses that I've gotten from the firm and the hundreds of emails message and notes and encouragement and people saying that they are having these conversations on them. teams, I am cautiously optimistic about this moment in time and both within the firm and also within the United States, but we're all gonna have to do it, thanks for joyous, Fred, totally oppressed you sharing your story and arm. I appreciate your optimism in the wake of so much terrible horrible
around the world, so just appreciate you taken the time. That's all this week's episode Hope Airborne has good, weaken and we'll be back next week. This podcast was accorded on Thursday to enforce too thousand twenty all price references and market forecasts correspond to the date of this recording. This podcast should not be copied distributed, published or reproduced in whole or in part. The information contained in this box-
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Transcript generated on 2021-07-02.