A Goldman Partner’s Sexually Explicit Video Led to Millions in Settlement


(Bloomberg) — A Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner agreed to pay several million dollars to a woman to resolve a complaint so sensitive it was handled at the highest levels of the firm.

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The executive accidentally included a sexually explicit recording of himself as part of a work-related video sent to a junior staffer, according to more than a half-dozen people with knowledge of the matter. The incident, which happened in 2020, quickly spiraled into an internal review overseen by senior leaders, including Chief Executive Officer David Solomon, the people said.

Goldman determined that the partner — Adam Dell, a fintech entrepreneur and brother of billionaire Michael Dell — didn’t realize the camera filmed beyond the work project and unknowingly sent the entire video file while working remotely, the people said. When he left a few months later, the firm named him an advisory director, an honorific granted to those who exit on good terms and could continue to help the bank, according to a news report at the time. The woman also left.

The previously unreported episode sparked debate within the firm. Some senior executives privately chafed at what they regarded as the woman’s rush to get a lawyer, and argued that if she were traumatized by the video she could have just stopped watching it, according to several of the people, who described the reactions. Others within the firm said such attitudes show a culture that still doesn’t grasp the mistrust built up over decades of power imbalances, and lacks empathy for how such an incident could be destabilizing.

Adam Dell, 53, didn’t respond to several requests for comment. The “reporting contains significant factual errors,” Goldman spokesman Tony Fratto said, without elaborating on the errors.

Goldman Sachs has said improving gender diversity in its top ranks is a key priority and has grappled with a legacy of some women feeling unwelcome. In a separate matter, the firm last month settled one of the biggest class-action lawsuits over gender discrimination in Wall Street history. And in November, Bloomberg reported on an eight-figure settlement with a female partner who accused senior executives of fostering a toxic workplace culture.

Dell, a longtime venture capitalist, arrived at Goldman Sachs in 2018 when the Wall Street bank acquired a personal-finance app he had founded, Clarity Money, to expand in consumer banking. He joined as a partner — a rare feat at Goldman — and worked on furthering its foray onto Main Street.

After the incident, the woman hired a lawyer who sought about $30 million on her behalf, citing the content of the video and the likelihood of damage to her career, the people said. Dell ultimately reached an agreement for a much smaller amount that was described as a multi-million dollar settlement by people with knowledge of the pact.

The people who described the video and its aftermath asked not to be named discussing the confidential matter. Bloomberg is not naming the woman involved in part because she never went public with her complaint.

Across Wall Street, there’s a wariness of how past claims of mistreatment have been handled, said Arjuna Capital’s Natasha Lamb, a prominent activist investor focused on social issues.

“I don’t expect a company to put out a press release with every sexual harassment complaint,” she said. “But as an investor, I would expect an annual report about the number of incidents, and how it was handled, and that it wasn’t just brushed under the rug.”

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