There’s a certain image that probably comes to mind for many of us when we think of Wall Street bankers: expensive suits and well-groomed people.
In an article for Reuters, Elizabeth Dilts notes that this image may soon need to evolve. “Goldman Sachs Group Inc said on Tuesday that it is relaxing the dress code for all its employees, a move once considered unimaginable for the Wall Street firm’s leagues of monk-shoed partners and bankers in bespoke suits,” she writes. “The new ‘firm wide flexible dress code’ was announced in an internal memo, which said the shift was due to ‘the changing nature of workplaces generally in favor of a more casual environment.’”
The move by Goldman Sachs highlights some key trends for workplace culture, recruitment efforts, and generational attitudes toward work.
Competition for Talent
For one—and as we’ve talked about many, many times before—this is a jobseeker’s job market, and Goldman needs to continually attract top talent. “Like other Wall Street banks, Goldman has been competing to secure the best employees,” writes Dilts. “Large technology firms and hedge funds often have more relaxed offices and perks.”
New Standards for a New Generation
A lot of that competition is likely to be focused on Millennials and even their younger siblings in Gen Z. It’s estimated that Millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025. That number squares with where Goldman already is. Dilts writes that more than 75% of Goldman employees are members of the Millennial or Gen Z generation.
Need for Cohesion
While we, of course, think of bankers when we think of Goldman Sachs, the company employs nonbankers, as well, in various support functions. Relaxing the dress code for everyone helps bridge a gap created by a partial relaxing of the company’s dress code a couple of years ago.
“Historically known as a white-shoe investment bank, Goldman Sachs traditionally required formal business attire,” says Dilts. “But since 2017, the bank began relaxing its dress code for employees in the technology division and other new digital businesses. This created a divide in the workforce as clear as denim versus pinstripes.”
Some companies seem monolithic and static in their corporate image, but new realities mean change in any industry and for any company. Goldman’s new dress code is symbolic of that change and what it means for recruitment, company culture, and generational shifts more broadly.