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Practice Management > Compensation and Fees

Nuns Want Goldman to ‘Fess Up

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Four orders of nuns are hoping that “Seek and ye shall find” will work in their quest for information from Goldman Sachs. The orders, shareholders in the company, have submitted a shareholder resolution that seeks information on remuneration policies at the firm in the wake of a revelation of pay levels totaling $69.5 million for its top five execs. The resolution was disclosed on Monday by the SEC.

The orders of Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the Sisters of St Francis of Philadelphia and the Benedictine Sisters of Mt Angel, all, according to a report in the Guardian, have submitted the resolution before the company’s annual meeting next month.

The resolution reads, in part, "shareholders request that the board's compensation committee initiate a review of our company's senior executive compensation policies and make available a summary report of that review by 1 October, 2011 (omitting confidential information and processed at a reasonable cost). We request that the report include:

  1. An evaluation of whether our senior executive compensation packages (including, but not limited to, options, benefits, perks, loans and retirement agreements) are 'excessive' and should be modified.
  2. An exploration of how sizeable layoffs and the level of pay of our lowest paid workers impact senior executive pay.
  3. An analysis of the way in which fluctuations in revenues impact: a) the company's compensation pool; b) the compensation of the company's top 25 senior executives; and c) the company's shareholders."

Lloyd Blankfein, who ruffled global feathers in 2009 when he made the assertion that he was doing "God’s work" at Goldman, has his own views on employee compensation, and they don’t coincide with those of the sisters. This is not the first time that the nuns have made their concerns over Goldman’s pay structure known.

The company, in saying it would resist their request for information, said, "Shareholders already have access to the information necessary to understand and assess the compensation decisions made with respect to our senior executives, and the firm as a whole. Our board believes that the preparation of the requested report would be a distraction to our compensation committee and our board, would entail an unjustified cost to our firm and would not provide shareholders with any meaningful information."


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