A case of Wall Street greed gone too far

You hate paying taxes. I hate paying taxes. And the good folks at Goldman Sachs & Co. apparently hate paying taxes too. From my column this week for CNN.com:

“While the rest of us were donning our party clothes on New Year’s Eve, the legal worker bees at Goldman were pushing the send button on 10 regulatory filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. By the time the ball dropped in Times Square, regulators had been notified that $65 million in Goldman stock had been granted a month early, helping a cluster of powerful multimillionaire executives trim their tax tab.”

Yes, I know. Can you blame them for taking perfectly legal means to avoid a bigger tax bill? Well, actually, yes.

“What makes the Goldman move distasteful is that it wasn’t even two months ago that CEO Blankfein was mouthing off in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that he endorsed tax increases “especially for the wealthiest” — along with a plug to cut entitlements to all you freeloaders out there.”

You can read my CNN column here.

Looking for success in biz? Change your name from ‘Jennifer’ to ‘John’

In the academic world, if your name is John, you’re more likely to be well-thought-of than you would be if your name were Jennifer. When science professors were asked to evaluate the same one-page summary of a promising, but not stellar job applicant, they gave higher scores to the potential applicant whose name was “John” than they did to “Jennifer.”

They estimated that the “Johns” ought to be making more money, too. And they were more likely to be willing to mentor “John.”

The New York Times tonight published a story about new work by researchers at Yale University that adds to the evidence that people making evaluations about the talent and worth of job applicants think more highly of candidates who are men. Even when the men are armed with identical qualifications described in precisely the same words. And even when its a woman making the evaluation.

Combine these findings with the story of “James Chartrand,” a female website developer who ditched her identity and began pitching her newly named company — “Men With Pens” — as an operation run by a guy. Business picked up. Online negotiating became easy.

And then there is the famous study about hiring practices by symphony orchestras. Hide a female musician behind a screen during an audition, and she is more likely to be hired. Here’s a link to that study. Read article.

In a column for CNN.com last week, I talked about the lopsided bylines that readers are exposed to when they read articles in newspapers or online. Women write only 20 percent of newspaper op-eds, yet they’ve received between 70 and 76 percent of all the journalism and mass communications degrees earned over the past ten years. If you have a daughter who isn’t in the workforce yet, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let her know what she has ahead of her. The fight for gender equality is not finished. It’s barely begun.

What’s the Deal with Women in Journalism?

Reading an op-ed in a major newspaper? Chances are eight in ten it’s written by a man. In fact, 60 percent of newspaper employees are men and almost 70 percent of the commentaries you read on major websites are written by men.

In my latest column for CNN.com, I take a look at what’s happened in journalism since the groundbreaking gender discrimination lawsuit by women at Newsweek 42 years ago.

In her just-published book “The Good Girls Revolt,” Lynn Povich, a 47-year journalism veteran who started as a secretary in the Paris bureau of Newsweek magazine in 1965, tells how 46 women with degrees from top schools fought back after being relegated to jobs checking facts and clipping newspaper stories while men with similar credentials got the bylines and big salaries.

Today’s statistics sound out-of-line when you consider that over the past 10 years, between 70 and 76% of all journalism and mass communications graduates have been women.

Let me know what you think about who’s shaping most of the coverage you’re reading. Read article.

Is there Justice for Goldman Sachs?

Do you remember that 11-hour Senate hearing where there were more scatological references than you could find in a Beavis and Butthead movie? “How much of that sh**ty deal did you sell?” asked Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who was running a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on investigations. “Should Goldman Sachs be trying to sell the sh**ty deal?

Levin was grilling a Goldman executive about the over-the-top emails Levin’s committee had collected that made very clear that insiders at Goldman — and other firms — were privately trashing the same securities they were selling to their customers. One gem the investigators had come across: A Goldman executive emailing a colleague “Boy that Timberwolf was one sh**ty deal.”

When all was said and done, Levin asked the Justice Department to look into whether Goldman had broken the law by misleading clients. Last Thursday, Justice said it wouldn’t be bringing a case.

In my column for CNN.com today, I raise the question that’s on a lot of people’s minds: Do big banks like Goldman get special treatment? Read article