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Goldman Sachs relaxes dress code for techs in fight for talent (reuters.com)
194 points by deegles 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 221 comments

I worked on the American trading floor of a Swiss bank. After the crisis, Zürich decided to reign in us free-wheelers. So they came out with a new dress code [1]:

"Among the 'dos' and 'don’ts' for women: 'Make sure to touch up hair regrowth regularly if you color your hair.' Men are commanded to, 'Schedule barber appointments every four weeks to maintain your haircut shape.'

Neither sex is allowed to 'allow their underwear to appear,' wear short-sleeved shirts or, strangely, cuff links."

We all bought ridiculously-coloured suits (the bankers, being bankers, went along); the rules were pared back. Goldman Sachs has always had an antiquated dress code for people who will never come within fifty feet of a client.

[1] http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/797245

Goldman Sachs has always had a ridiculously antiquated dress code for people who will never come within fifty feet of a client.

When I was much younger I didn't understand the concept of people who never had to deal with clients having a dress code but now I sorta do: the company is trying to create or promote the concept that everyone in the company is a member of the same team and have more in common with each other than they do with outsiders. Whether or not this actually works I don't know, but that's the only thing that makes sense. Same reason I guess the military puts everyone in camo these days, even people well behind the front lines.

Common dress absolutely drives a certain esprit de corps. The irony in my example is that the corporate code ruined the informal one we'd developed over the years (white dress shirt, fleece or vest and brown shoes with tan slacks or black shoes with light pinstripes). Before the rebellion, I could identify, on the street, our teams (and who were the interns--black suits with skinny ties, almost all of them). Afterwards, each desk went its own separate way.

In an office setting, dress is better used as a signal than a driver. If your team isn't, over the years, picking up cues from one another then maybe there's a level of social bonding that you, as the manager, are neglecting to forment. (Or your team doesn't have to be that close to be effective.) Social psychology gives a lot away for free if you're halfway perceptive.

> white dress shirt

It would seem that as an American you refer to a white shirt - but what do you term that which I (as a Briton) would call a dress shirt? (Worn with evening, or the most formal of morning attire. That is, with your -ahem- tuxedo!)

Formal shirt, I think.

That makes sense, thanks.

I've been searching around (self-proclaimed) 'all American' clothing sites - it seems 'shirt' -> 'dress shirt', and 't-shirt' -> 'shirt'.

I suppose it makes sense that as a new garment starts to dominate it adopts the shorter name - I haven't really noticed it over here though, except with polo shirts, but even there I'd say the more common contraction is 'polo'.

I think you mean "mourning"?

No, but that is one of the few occasions on which morning suits ([morning] tailcoat and usually pinstriped trousers) still see some use!

Tuxedo in the morning? Long night, eh?

If Cialdini's Influence is to be believed, everyone says they don't treat people wearing (or driving) nice stuff better, but subjecting this to scientific scrutiny reveals that they overwhelmingly and significantly do.

If that's true then dressing well is pretty damn rational in general, and especially if money's on the line.

As an Indian immigrant to Minnesota in the 1970s, my dad adopted a habit of ALWAYS wearing a suit. This gave him the benefit of the doubt in a lot of interactions where he wouldn't have otherwise had it. He kept up that habit for a long time and wore a suit to parent teacher conferences, my 4th grade violin "concert," etc. It most certainly got him a deference from others and did its job admirably.

He never got OK with my habit of wearing jeans and T-shirts even as an adult because he couldn't grasp how different my experience was from his.

That's something I got from my dad as well - dress for the job you want,not the one you have. I also found that dressing well fixes at least some of the age discrimination you face as a young person, you get treated much better while wearing a suit and a tie than when just wearing a t-shirt or a plain shirt.

So if you want a job at google but work at a bank, wear Hawaiian shirts and shorts?

Also, over dressing can be as much of a problem as underdressing. If you came to a def interview at say Facebook in a suit, it could get awkward.

Well, obviously that was an advice given by a working man trying to punch above his weight and be treated seriously in situations where most people from his background weren't. It worked for him, and it worked for me when I was looking for jobs, houses, had to do official business and run a company. I suppose a situation like you described has never crossed my dad's mind because it's just such a unique problem to have. As with any advice - use common sense?

Ideologies defy common sense; if someone believes a suit is always appropriate, they might not accept that there are contexts where it isn't. Likewise the other way around.

I remember when a candidate came in wearing a suit, and our VP Eng said, "suit eh? Guess he didn't do his homework."

Seems very petty

For some roles, it's not petty. For example, for a sales role, you'd expect your salesman to be able to fit in at a client right from the first visit. If they can't do that at your company, that's a negative indicator for them.

Social signaling works both ways, and yes, in both ways, its petty.

Aim for the middle.

Black pants, white shirts. Works everywhere.

My dad, whose dad was from Poland, did the same...always wore a suit to seemingly just try to make the statement that he wanted to belong...similarly thought it not feasible for me to wear jeans and t shirts.

I tend to do the opposite. I distrust people who wear suits, especially in settings where it's not common to do so. I see it as a possible indicator that they are trying to hide their limitations.

For example, people giving their talk wearing a suit at a scientific conference? Very high chance of bad science. If you do amazing research you don't need a suit to impress anyone, the ideas you present will be more than enough.

>I see it as a possible indicator that they are trying to hide their limitations.

Fir myself, I don't know if I see it as that, but I certainly see it as an indicator that they might be the kind of person who judges /other people/ based on how they dress.

I don't care how you dress, but if you care how other people dress, I'm definitely judging you for that.

so you are biased to hipsters who who take care to dress like it looks like they don't care, and you might be the kind of person who judges /other people/ based on how they dress.

How do you know who is taking care to appear that they don't care? Some people really don't care.

It takes hours of effort and a whole range of products to look like you've just got out of bed

Unless you just don't shower and/or shave.

I work from home. I don't need effort and products to look like I just woke up.

100%. I actually grew to like wearing a suit because when you're wearing a suit and somebody else isn't, there's a certain kind of cultural deference you get in many situations that is pretty handy from a business and a social perspective.

Ish. Precisely because the suit is a corporate uniform, it can be medium-to-low status in a lot of contexts. Traditionally, servants would always dress slightly more formally than the people they serve, so being overdressed can send the wrong message. If the suit isn't of impeccable cut and quality, you can often look like a used car salesman or an overly-eager intern. The extreme example would be arriving at a cocktail reception in black tie - you risk being directed to the kitchen and handed a tray of canapes.

As often as not, a well-cut sport coat and trousers play as higher status than a suit. It explicitly signals that you're dressing well by choice rather than diktat. Many semi-formal flourishes can carry this connotation - brown dress shoes, a knit tie, an oxford shirt or a flamboyant pocket square.

"Impeccable" is pushing it, but yeah, you need a suit that fits.

That's the exact reason why I hate wearing and even worst ever being forced to wear one.

I've never been forced to wear one in my professional life, so I dunno about that. But I'll wear one by choice on occasion. Even when I was working a day job I'd just wear a suit some days. My boss would think I was interviewing (I wasn't, usually), but it's really just because it is an easy, straightforward confidence boost.

"on occasion" being the keyword. It's good to be able to leverage a suit as a tool or for pleasure. Many people rejecting formal dressing miss that.

But the problem with a very strict dress code is that you don't feel being respected, you feel coerced.

Good to keep your boss on his or her toes too

Ehh. Every boss I've ever worked for after my initial out-of-college gig has known that I interview regularly, once every quarter at least; it was never anything personal or because of dissatisfaction, just "I like networking and I like seeing how the trends in the market are evolving". I usually didn't wear a suit to those, though, for the other reason: tech people get weird about well-dressed people and think they're "fakes" or whatever.

> tech people get weird about well-dressed people and think they're "fakes" or whatever.

There's some historical precedence there. Up until ~10-15 years ago the fakers and know-nothings used to always wear suits. They were the guys who pulled the purse strings, but had no clue.

Unfortunately, since then they've learnt to mimic the dress of their prey. So now instead of the "empty suit" you have an "empty hoodie".

Here in Australia, it is only sales people (cars, real estate, finanicial products), politicians and the CEO in front of the press. There is a very good reason not to trust anyone in a suit anymore.

You can either chafe, or acknowledge reality and use it to your advantage.

When I was younger, I chafed. Now, I enjoy getting seated at that restaurant table before you.

And the presence of a load of suits is a good indicator for the rest of us that it's not the sort of restaurant atmosphere we'll enjoy...

Hahaha oh man it's hard to tell on the internet but I hope this is facetious and you genuinely don't think restaurants are going to ever move you ahead in the queue.

I'm kind of being facetious.

It's just an observation that the more professional you look, the better you'll be treated. Yes, that's a fact. Yes, it's probably a sad commentary. And I rarely wear dress clothes - but I know when to, and I don't complain.

Anecdotally, I have worked at restaurants where we wouldn't seat people who were wearing denim, no matter how expensive it was.

When everyone is wearing a suit, how does one differentiate?

Same way you differentiate between different stuff in the same class--quality, style, that sort of thing. I've never worried about that part of things, though, because the jump from "no suit" to "well-fitted suit" feels bigger to me than "well-fitted suit" to "well-fitted, expensive suit", and I mostly wear one because I like them, so I haven't indulged.

By comparing the quality of your respective business cards of course.

Watch I guess, Patek trumps Rolex and so on...

There's few things that make a worse first impression on me faster than someone wearing a watch as a status symbol.

How would you know, unless you were making an effort yourself to check out their watch? And knew which watches were status symbols?

Depends how expensive the watch is. If it's a $100K watch, you can be fairly sure they have money.

Watches. Tag < Rolex < Audemars < Patek. Or shoes, or quality of suit, style, age, companion, car, etc...

No one recognises the higher end. Sure people notice a Rolex, TAG or Breitling but, in 10 years I can not remember anyone commenting on my AP.

jokes on you. i don't go to restaurants that cater to image over quality of food.

aka selling out.

Not everyone is built for success. At least you recognize that in yourself.

Funny, I read the comment as meaning "I get plenty of social deference, and any more would be just be annoying".

success? what does that even mean?

I've failed dev interviews for dressing too up and too down (both oddly in the same search!). If you can ascertain the standards ahead of time it's definitely helpful. In the absence of trusted guidance my current policy is a suit no tie and a shirt colored other than white and stubble or beard. It certainly won't tick everyone's boxes but if someone is looking for evidence that you own a suit it's there, and if they're looking for evidence that you're not trying to win the job through pageantry it's there. If they're looking for some more specific aesthetic qualifications they should have specified.

Yes, but I wouldn't want to spend time with someone who treats me better if I wear a suit rather than jeans, nor would I want to work at a place where such an attitude is common. I'd rather pass up on all the opportunities nice clothes would give me, so I can be myself and surround myself with people who think and feel like me. We are all apes trying to act like something else. A couple of pieces of cloth matter not.

But as GS just learned, if you relax the dress code, you can pay people less. so, dressing well is rational for employees, but dropping back offic dress code is rational for employers

Presumably, they can pay less / attract more staff for the same money because the talent they seek has a desire to not follow their dress code, which they will trade against other monetary and non-monetary benefits.

In that situation, voluntarily following a dress code that you don't enjoy following is illogical. As illogical as taking a voluntary pay cut.

When you attain a certain level of enlightenment and become aware of the mind hacks being employed by the powers that be, well then you can no longer stand them. Or, you chose to take part of them and use as leverage to achieve your goals I Suppose.

Those are not contradictory. You can choose to live most of your life so that you get as much freedom as you can and is important to you. But also use your knowledge as tools to take advantage of your environment.

Too many people makes it about conformism or morality. But really it's giving too much credit to it: we are just making animal behavior very sophisticated. It's no use to blame or get angry, or it's good to just do like everyone else. Just make the best of it, it's the reality you live in. And if you want to change it, you need to see it for what it is anyway so starting by that is always a good step.

A strict dress code is a double-edged sword for a professional services company. If your staff look identical, you're actively promoting the idea that they are interchangeable commodities. Think about the private-sector employers with the strictest and most distinctive uniforms - by and large, they're fast-food restaurants. That's not necessarily the brand image that an investment bank might want to portray.

Goldman Sachs, though, went so far as to have a corporate haircut.[1] Their barber finally quit out of sheer boredom.

[1] https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/03/06/to-serve-wall-street...

_shear_ boredom

It makes sense in the military, since as an institution it requires its individual members to have much less freedom and autonomy.

But if a company needs to use technics from the military, something is wrong. Life is not war.

The word "company" itself is military in origin, Latin "companio", soldiers who lived and ate together in a mess/barracks. In the modern day armies still use the term, several platoons make a company, several companies make a battalion.

Schools and sports teams also have uniforms, if that helps set your mind at ease...

I don't think it's sane to mix linguistic origin and social aspirations, especially when it's about comparing the civil and military life.

I don't think it's sane

Thanks for your opinion, but you are completely wrong. The military and commercial worlds have been cross-pollinating each other's organisational ideas for centuries. The fundamental problem is the same: one of coordinating large groups of people to achieve a common goal via a hierarchical structure.

The way you think is very dangerous.

Observing established patterns is dangerous?

Taking small similarities between 95% of society vs a specific entity designed to manage dangerous crisis to justify anything. In that case dress code, which is also overkill.

I think the parent is observing reality rather than saying things should be this way in an ideal world.

You do know there are other languages out there where such a comparison doesn't hold?

The military's goal is to be highly precise and effective. A business's goal is the same.

The military's goal is to give a job to young men who'd otherwise be causing trouble, and to kill people when the guys in suits find it necessary

This is no longer all that true. A lot of "trouble" one finds, even as a teenager, can keep you out of the military. You might be able to get a special waiver. After all, they want to only enlist upstanding citizens into the military. The days of offering young offenders military service rather than legal trouble is basically over.

It does still remain on of the US's largest jobs programs, though I'm not sure this is the goal of the military. It does make reducing military spending rather tricky since so many livelihoods depend on it.

Most people can agree in the goal of militaries. Not on companies. Valve, apple and github work in very different ways.

You're a part of the same team and you need to wear these outfits which you will likely never wear outside of work, but the huge bonus goes to the client favoring sales team, and no - we won't pay for the garb we require you to maintain the illusion that we are all equals!

Honestly, one of the things I absolutely love about tech/Silicon Valley is nobody cares at all how you dress.

Although, I noticed the sale force offices unofficial uniform:

Brown shoes brown belt designer jeans and some dry-cleaned blue shirt and a blazer...

"Look at how casually uniquely I conform to the office uniform!"

Not judging, I just thought it was funny...

SV absolutely has a dress code. Try showing up to work as an engineer "overdressed" in a casually dressed team and see what happens. Or dress like the sales team when you're part of engineering, etc.

Ha. Just said the same thing above. So true.

Honestly, one of the things I absolutely love about tech/Silicon Valley is nobody cares at all how you dress.

LOL the "hoodie code" is 10x stronger than any suit code.

Honest question: how old are you?

If you're even the slightest bit concerned with anything anyone is wearing, then you need to focus on something else.

I'm old enough to not care sometimes and to play the game sometimes and to know the difference

Tell a suit wearer that they should dress casual tomorrow and they'll say OK. Tell a geek they have to wear a suit tomorrow and they'll freak out. Now tell me who cares more about clothes?

Hmm.. that's a good point actually with a slight rebuttal:

The suit wearer also has a closet full of casual clothes

The casual wearer will not have a line of suits - thus his freak out

What is the payscale between the both vs type of work and hours?

Would be great to get a map of all this

What is the payscale between the both vs type of work

A hoodie-wearer at FB or Apple probably out-earns the majority of suit-wearers at Goldman - it is definitely not about money, just about attitude.

>>> A hoodie-wearer at FB or Apple probably out-earns the majority of suit-wearers at Goldman - it is definitely not about money, just about attitude.

Sorry but it's highly unlikely.

As a current Goldman Strat I can confirm that the hoodie-wearer is certainly out earning the majority. Only the traders are paid well, everyone else is on a less than competitive wage based on an illusion of how it "used to be". Historically (10+ years ago) the total compensation was accounted for by a big bonus but these days it is non existent.

Almost every VP I know in NYC/LDN makes less than a fresh grad at Google in the bay area.

True. There is a broader point that holds though, average tech salaries are above or equal to some careers that assume daily suits, even if NYC investment banking isn't one of them.

I think it's mostly tribal signalling, " I am not a suit" kind of thing. Although never having to deal with dry cleaning is an incentive, too.

> Honestly, one of the things I absolutely love about tech/Silicon Valley is nobody cares at all how you dress.

Things aren't quite as loose as you seem to think. If you want to see where the boundaries are, start gradually dressing more and more informally, and note when you start drawing criticism from your manager and senior coworkers. I expect you'll get more attention than you want if you were to come to work shirtless, say.

I dress for myself. I dress well, casual and comfortable. I shall not wear a suit to suite others, nor will I dress like a bum. I have found a set of clothes I like, looks good and I feel comfortable I. And I buy five-to-ten of the outfits and I wear the same thing visually every day, though they are physically different garments.

Or go the other way and turn up in a suit.

"You must have an interview today!"

Brown in town "shudders" the horror the horror

Totally agreed on the concept, that is why a T-shirt or hoodie with the company's logo on it is usually enough..

So to get the tech vibe, start giving out free Goldman Sachs t-shirts and golden colored jeans to the techies. If you give it away for free, all the techies will start wearing them all the time.

I've wondered about that for signalling. Say for example there is a revered tech company in your city. Get their tshirt and people might assume you work there. Go to Meetup and more people may want to chat with you etc.

> everyone in the company is a member of the same team

A team that includes everyone else outside the company in similar cloths?

The camo also helps to hide the diesel and oil (at least until 2019).

Not associated with them, but this would finallz be a reason to buy one of those awesome suits: https://www.opposuits.com/suits.html

I bought one and have been nothing but satisfied!

Funny enough, I do own one of their orange suits. The quality is really shitty, though, and they are cut for surprisingly tall and skinny people.

I was pretty happy with what I got for the money I paid. I got a solid red suit, and for $100 USD, I got a set of pants, the suit, and a tie, and they have held up pretty well.

I've noticed that men in their twenties can get a lot of comedic milegage out of those.

Lehman's was suit-for-everyone too, though what was really aggravating (other than women seemingly being allowed to wear beach clothes and forcing the room to be heated until all the men in suits sweated) was the 'dress down' Friday which was a second expensive wardrobe which required a stay-at-home spouse to maintain. So the techies generally stayed in suits on a Friday.

Cuff links FFS - when I dress up (about once a year) I always wear dress shirts with cufflinks. Sounds like the code was written by the sort of person that orders red wine with fish :-)

"James Bond: Red wine with fish. Well that should have told me something."

The point of the cuff links ban is not to let the lower tiers look as good as the executives.

Protip for interested readers: if you must wear a suit and are on a budget or confined by a dress code, try to pick one off the rack with the best fabric you can find. Take it to a tailor, which is not that expensive. Have the jacket cut to fit, and have the buttons on the sleeves altered to have actual buttonholes. As you are able to afford it, spend the same amount of money as the total cost of the suit on shoes, 2 shirts, and 3 ties. Learn about tie stripe patterns (which often have coded military or school affiliations, a sort of secret handshake); otherwise, fine ties that work with your hair or eye color. If you're not experienced or confident in shopping for clothes, get a friend who is. Woman often understand men's clothes better than men.

I'm not into suits and ties either, but when you have to wear them you might as well take comfort in knowing that you look good instead of feeling awkward.

Funny must be an American thing I bet in many of the clubs in London not wearing cufflinks would almost be as bad as wearing brown shoes in town.

> brown shoes in town

What's the story here? All I know about dress shoes is that they're hideously uncomfortable and generally not blue suede.

As for dress shoes being hideously uncomfortable, that's really a matter of fit and quality. For years, I walked several miles per day in NYC in leather-soled dress shoes and they were perfectly comfortable. Now I kinda' regret that I wear a pair of running shoes to my tech job and all my nice dress shoes are gathering dust in my closet.

As the old saying goes "no brown in town"....

It's an old UK social class signalling thing.

Only really applies to particularly stuffy organisations these days - but the do exist in the finance/legal worlds.

Yeah, in the US cufflinks can come across as elitist or as a flaunting of wealth.

at a top tier investment bank isn't working their elitist enough all ready

Having grown up in Switzerland, I understand where the advice came from. There, bankers are more servile. It could be seen as inappropriate for a banker to be dressed as if about to enjoy something luxurious. As you observe, however, it translates stupidly across cultures.

I remember working in a bullpen among other young, enthusiastic, hard-working, poorly groomed males coding in the horror show that C++, CORBA, and Oracle could put on for a production environment during that first 90s dot.com build up.

Meanwhile the president/CEO guy came wandering through the production gallows with our manager speaking about how next-round VCs were going to show up tomorrow for a looksee.

I asked my manager if we should dress up for that. The CEO threw his hands out and said, "No, no, no! Wear that penguin shirt and flip flops and shit. We are a start-up."

If you view human beings as perfectly rational machines then dress codes make no sense, but that's not what we are. Dressing formally puts you in a different frame of mind. It reminds you that your work is serious and that different standards apply to how you act and talk than in your casual personal life. If you dress to work the way you'd show up to a dive bar, then you're that much closer to behaving like you do at a dive bar.

Economist Tyler Cowen makes another good argument for formal dress: it is a vehicle for social mobility.[1] In a society that values formal dress, you can signal your intent to move up the social hierarchy by how you dress yourself. If you want to become an elite, then dress like one and people will take you seriously. But when the elites adopt casual dress in their professional lives, what is left are much more subtle and hard-to-adopt class signifiers: manners of speaking, interests, childhood experiences, travel, etc.

Yet another problem is that dressing "smart casual" is actually more difficult and expensive than wearing a suit. A suit is a great equalizer. A $2000 suit is not all that different than a $300 suit. And you can very easily get away with having only two or three suits. But smart casual is much more difficult, subtle, and expensive to pull off.[2]



> Dressing formally puts you in a different frame of mind. It reminds you that your work is serious and that different standards apply

I wonder, if appearances matter that much, would your staff believe that they can be publicly wrong, admit mistakes, or take any risks that would lead to either scenario? Would they ever ask a question, when it signals they don't already know everything? It seems like once you take on such a formal dress code persona, the ethics of "serious business" might strangle your company's long term survival odds.

> In a society that values formal dress, you can signal your intent to move up the social hierarchy by how you dress yourself. If you want to become an elite, then dress like one and people will take you seriously.

IMO, when a peer dresses formally, I trust them less. It signals an endorsement that appearances matter more than results, and that promotion up the social ladders is important enough to you that you might end up screwing me over if given the chance.

Ideally, social mobility shouldn't rely on the promoting the richest person up to managers and executives.

>Ideally, social mobility shouldn't rely on the promoting the richest person up to managers and executives.

I think we agree 100% on this point, no?

> Dressing formally puts you in a different frame of mind.

Actually, it makes me feel like I'm talking to a sales person. It is as if dressing up is used to conceal something about the intentions or shortcomings of the person. I probably don't explain it in the right way, but that is more or less the feeling it evokes.

Pretty much ditto. Well, maybe not ditto, but similar affect (and yes, I have suits I have to wear for public facing activities at work).

There's this assumption of "universal reference" in social signals, so for me to be told that "wearing a suit puts you in a different frame of mind", as in one which makes you work/feel better about yourself is completely wrong...in the sense of what frame of mind it puts you in.

For me, a suit is the uniform of the con-man, the salesman, the fraud, the bludger, the twit. You put on a suit because you want to fool people who can't think rationally and they're incapable of making judgments except by what you look like through signals of conspicuous consumption.

Imagine being constantly told that you should dress in a uniform with such connotations to make yourself psychologically feel better/superior (especially compared to clothes that you have yourself chosen because they do make you feel better).

Or, maybe we could just judge employees by whether they get the job done or not instead of how they dress up.

I've employed plenty of people, if anything those who were overly busy with how they looked tended to under-perform and used their dress as a way of compensation.

But when the elites adopt casual dress in their professional lives, what is left are much more subtle and hard-to-adopt class signifiers: manners of speaking, interests, childhood experiences, travel, etc

The NYT had an article on this recently: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/opinion/how-we-are-ruinin...

I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class.

Sorry, and I know that this is on NYT, not you, but what the utter fuck is that paragraph about the sandwich shop?

Walk through, say, Boston's North End. It's like walking into Italy. There are old men sitting in front of cafés muttering in Italian about the way the young folk dress. There are fresh pizzas and sandwiches with their smells wafting through the air. The streets are narrow, mostly pedestrian, and cobbled, with few cars coming and going. And, yes, if you go into a deli in the North End, you can buy cured meats with Italian names.

This is not a wealthy neighborhood. There was a period of time in the past when Italian-Americans were the subject of quite a bit of prejudice and stereotyping. It's news to me that Italian culture is somehow "completely illegible" to the poor, and I can't help but feel that whatever point the author wanted to make is lost or perhaps flawed.

(Somebody will say that the North End is uniquely Italian. Sure, but I grew up on the West Coast and learned about Italian sandwiches from an Italian sandwich shop anyway, because Italian sandwiches are not somehow confined to a tiny corner of Boston. Again, what the utter fuck.)

It didn't happen

That op-ed was mocked mercilessly.

That's sometimes a sign that you're onto something. Donald Trump was mocked mercilessly. Looks like he got the last laugh.

The sandwich shop example is a little weak, but I agree with Brook's point. There is a cultural segmenting of American society into the top 20% and the rest, and it's a strong barrier to social mobility. At the college I attended, there was a clear social barrier between the kids from upper middle class urban families, and those from lower middle class suburbia. The differences in interests and life experiences were profound and hard to overcome. Ironically, the much derided fraternity system was one of the few effective measures for bridging that gap, by creating common experiences and a new shared identity.

>Donald Trump was mocked mercilessly. Looks like he got the last laugh.

_Is_ mocked mercilessly, and I don't think he's got the last of anything yet.

... he's president of the united states?

And half his family / cabinet is implicated in relaxing sanctions against the Russian kleptocracy in exchange for information damaging to his political rivals.

I'll wager it cut pretty close to the bone for some.

Regarding hard to adopt class signifiers, this is definitely true, however, this is the case regardless of whether everyone is wearing a suit or an anime t-shirt. As for the second part, that's also true, but the argument is a bit moot because having a "smart casual" dress code is not really that much different than a suit dress code. It is casual only in name. When I hear casual I think of a job I had where people wore almost anything they wanted (from "smart casual" to sports jerseys with low-hanging shorts) And I didn't notice any dress-based discrimination there, not even subtle.

But my main problem with the idea in the article is:

> The problem is this: If everything is casual, what exactly do you do to show your seriousness?

> There isn’t such a simple way to visually demonstrate you are determined to join the ranks of the upwardly mobile. Looking smart on “casual Friday” may get you a better date, but the boss will not sit up and take notice.

You show this through professional accomplishments - deep and wide technical ability, doing your job well, being reliable, resolving problems others get stuck on, ending up as one of the people both coworkers and clients gravitate towards for advice/help with difficult problems and so on. This stuff gets noticed.

The author seems to hold the view that it should be possible to rise up by playing the game of workplace social dynamics and that the fact that this is difficult in our field compared to more traditional fields presents a problem. But is that really a bad thing?

He is likely not a software developer, but I've heard this "I don't know what I have to do to be taken more seriously" sentiment (only a couple of times) from people in SD. However those were people who were weaker technically but had a strong desire to get ahead, manage projects and people, etc. Their problem had nothing to do with discrimination based on social class and everything to do with discrimination of superficial and/or narrow professional knowledge. At most companies, expertise shows, and usually very quickly.

His "positive" example of China etc is:

> The young and ambitious really can set themselves apart from the slackers, even if doing so looks conformist and stifling when multiplied and observed on a larger scale. Societies of upward mobility, when based on large and growing business enterprises, look and feel somewhat oppressive. Much as many of us might not want to admit it, the casual and the egalitarian are closer to enemies than to allies.

But why would we even want the "young and ambitious" to set themselves apart through the way they dress or by conforming in other ways, and why would we want to decide who is a "slacker" based on that? People can set themselves apart by being exceptional at what they do. Nobody can claim this doesn't, overall, work very well in the software industry. The author is basically complaining about the lack of ability to advance in your career through superficial means.

I know some people prefer money over morality and integrity, but personally, I am satisfied that these guys have to struggle to get people to work for them. In my ideal world, people would grow spines and would not work for these shady big companies.

Goldman and its ilk may be responsible for the financial crisis, but the financial crisis was painful for ordinary people because Wall Street stopped performing its function in the economy. Business ground to a halt and companies laid off workers in large part because credit dried up.

If these big shady companies are immoral because of that time their operations slowed, imagine what would happen if you got your wish.

Google "Goldman Sacks starvation" sometime.

Consider that your personal morals aren't the same thing as a One True Morality.

Not to mention that Goldman isn't even paying top of market. So your statement about greed is completely misguided.

GS relaxing its tech dress code is the first sign of the of the end of the business cycle. The second is a management committee member taking up DJing.


Sell equities, buy treasuries.

no QE has caused a massive bull market in Bonds Guilts Etc buying gold or commodities as a hedge might be better

Honestly, you're probably better off buying BTC.

Serge Aleynikov, you're awesome and everyone here loves you. Thanks for all your hard work and open source contributions.


man, provide some context so poor people like me don't flag your comment then feel stupid and unflag them.

context: see other comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14777935

I did a double-take at https://github.com/saleyn/secdb surely it can't be... (it's not)

Goldman Sachs might get more traction with tech talent if they drop their proprietary in-house language and database; Slang and SecDB. See 'Confessions of a Slang coder at Goldman Sachs' [1], and 'The hidden weakness inside Goldman Sachs?' [2]. Of course, it is considered by some to be the secure sauce behind their secret source but I expect its a factor, especially if they are trying to hire from the Silicon Valley crowd.

[1] http://news.efinancialcareers.com/au-en/282097/slang-goldman...

[2] http://news.efinancialcareers.com/au-en/274853/secdb-goldman...

If you want my attention, the thing to offer is an actual office with an actual door that closes. (Private, semiprivate, whatever—just not a thousand of my closest friends and a jet engine or two.)

Odd, I worked at Goldman Sachs in London in approx. 1999-2001 and visited the New York office a few times and remember it being the usual "smart/casual" (veering to very casual). When did it smarten up?

I visited their NYC offices in 2008. we were talking to them about some openstack/cloud stuff at the time. I went in jeans and a polo. My contact there emailed after saying the meeting went well, but to please wear a dress shirt and no jeans next time. And I wasn't even an employee! ;)

Definitely ahead of their time, Openstack wasn't formed until 2010

During those years, London switched from suit (with tie) to suit (tie optional).

I don't recall New York being much more casual, but it might have.

Back then, in NY, they put a foosball table on the 26th floor (IIRC) of 85 Broad St for the quants ("Strats"), in an effort to compete as an employer with the first dot.com boom (foosball = cool, right).

Once the tech bubble burst, the foosball table was gone pretty quickly though! :)

The London head office was in a listed art deco building on Fleet Street, beautifully renovated with a great gym and waterfall, quickly dubbed the "NASDAQ 5000 memorial waterfall"... (It only hit 5000 again in 2015)

Tech never did smarten up. I wore business casual every day to work from 2008 onward, no one ever said a damned thing.

Did put on a tie when making presentations to the desk, though.

To throw my anecdote in here too, it was the same smart/casual dress code in the 2006 time frame that I was at GS (also in London).

Having spent some time at one of the other big financial sector names recently (bigger than goldman)...

Yeah dress codes for tech folk went out some time ago. Among the coders I spent time with, jeans and metal t-shirts were de-rigeur

Just pay more than your competitors! I'll dress in a fucking clown suit if you pay me the right price.

Allowing work remotely would work better, imo.

They allow it. Just make sure your MD is behind you.

I never got the point of dress codes. When everyone dress (boringly) alike I tend to view them as mindless drones and my respect for them drops to near zero. Show up in some unusual or creative outfit however and I'm so much more willing to believe you are an intelligent and interresting human being.

Totally agree. I mean, look at all these dull, uncreative, mindless drones http://www.uh.edu/engines/Solvay-1927.jpg.

Well, for one thing, Einstein never wore socks.

I feel like a black and white picture doesn't really contribute to the conversation. I assume it's meant as a joke but either way, I try to downvote when something doesn't contribute (as opposed to when I don't agree).

Hello? It's not just a black and white picture, it's the 1927 Solvay Conference on Quantum Mechanics, the joke being that most of the "mindless drones in suits" in it won Nobel prizes.

I figured they must be prominent people, but in that picture I don't see much. It won't be pink and purple but I can imagine tints of green and other colors that shake things up a bit.

Everyone says that but overwhelmingly people in professional attire are treated better in social situations.

Among what crowd though? I bet that's true for a random sample of the street, but I doubt it is for SF engineers, for example.

Slowly getting there, but they still have to wear pants...

I have different opinion on this one. I will be very happy to wear suit if you pay me executive level salary and I don't mind even if I work as an individual contributor and write code. But if you tell me that it is an organizational policy and you have to be dressed smart because you might bump the CEO of the company or any future client in the elevator but we will still pay you a salary of 60-100k and sit a cube all day head down and keep working your ass then sorry to say that "Goldman sacs, go f yourself"

I once saw a press release about Goldman or one of these other big money firms and how they were going to build software "like a startup". In the photo that accompanied it were a group of guys wearing hoodies that had some lame slogan on it, trying to woo Silicon Valley talent to come to finance by showing how they were cool now.

Under the hoodies were expensive shirts and ties.

The picture had exactly the opposite effect of what it intended- it showed how fake and false the 'culture' they were portraying was.

This was Goldman, particularly Marty Chavez who is otherwise a very smart character originating from from outside banking (Stanford Phd).

Are salaries in IB tech on that level today? I doubt even a senior quant hedge fund / HFT firm developer makes anywhere near the quoted $400k.

I think 400 is likely attainable for the hedge funds, no idea about other fields. The HFT guys pay about 250 (total comp, e.g, salary and bonuses) for a newly minted PhD.

No way. £250K for a new Ph.D. with zero experience in industry? Even a low latency whiz kid with deep Linux kernel optimisation will just about maybe make £250K in a very good year.

$250k, not pounds. $125k base, 100% bonus. I know two fellow Phds who had this first year. This is a top-10 program, but not more.

Agreed, that sounds about right.

I'm still traumatized from working in banking tech. When I see a line of Java code I start to break out into cold sweats.

What do you work on now?

So, if you want us "techs" to work on antiquated languages like Slang, then cut us some slack in our slacks.

Tech is IB land is billions of dollars, yet, the actual end delivery, the systems, the codebases, the platforms are of a far lower quality than most outside could ever suspect.

Bonus-driven development is partially to blame there though.

Oh cool... If only this happened six months ago when I had my interview. Then again, attire was the smallest problem of the interview.

I remember reading Glassdoor to see what working for the company as a dev was like and most of them complained about how low the pay was compared to tech.

Maybe they should pay more for a wider talent pool?

BlackRock did the same.

The important question, however, is do suits make a corporate comeback?

"Oh and remember, next Friday is Hawaiian shirt day! So, y'know, if you want to, go ahead and uh, wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans."

compensation for engineers is still lower at Goldman than at tech firms, nice try Goldman.

Maybe a minority view but, pay me a suit salary because I actually want to wear a suit. I'm a professional, not your friend's tech-savvy kid.

I think this is a minority view, I used to have to wear suits for work and its a pain making considerations for them.

I've only ever done tshirt and jeans stuff. I couldn't imagine wearing a suit every day, but it might be fun to have a "dress up Fridays".

Ideally, anyone could wear whatever they want whenever they want. In practice, it doesn't seem to work out this way, even at the tshirts and jeans companies.

Bunch of the teams I've worked with over the years have had "formal fridays". I can confirm it was a fun tradition.

I thought I was the only one!

What kind of company did you work for where this happened?

In this case a "suit salary" would be lower than a non-suit salary, so I don't get it.

That pendulum swings back and forth. Currently AI/tech is on top but I would not bet it will stay like this forever

How far back do you have to go for finance to beat tech in pay?

Finance already beats tech, apart from that small handful of ultra high paying roles in that handful of companies like Google.

Only if you are a Trader or an Investment Banker (note not the other 98% of people working at the firm i.e. Tech, Quant, Operations, Finance, HR) in which case you are already the handful of people such as the ultra high paid at Google as either your career is going to be very short once they find out you can't make money or you are very good (very few people) and you will make a fortune.

Yesterday? When has tech ever beat finance in pay?

For engineers it almost always does, unless you are the top .001% of talent.

In London at least this was not the case. Startup salaries today are often at the same level as bank internships. The US (particularly SF) is a very different market.

You are comparing a bank to a startup which is an absurd comparison. Compare Goldman to Google and guess what Google wins (even in London).

Banking salaries have been static for 10+ years. Bank internship salaries are designed to allure and impress but 5+ years in and the salary does not change.

On another note there are some startups who can pay very very well in London but they do not advertise these salaries.

SF has no finance companies.

What is your view (or anyone else reading this) on software dev QoL in the tech industry vs. non-tech firms in finance or energy/O&G?

Are tech companies open to hiring from different industries, like the ones listed above?

I honestly think finance is overall a worse deal, I used to think it was the panacea of making money. There is the chance that you can make 600 - 800k in finance as a senior developer, but you need to either be incredibly intelligent or incredibly hard working, generally you need an ivy league degree.

A year or so ago I received an offer from a well known quant hedge fund, I spoke to a google recruiter to see if they could match, to my surprise right there on the phone he told me they never get beat out and that they would beat the offer by 50k.

The hours are much better in tech, you get treated better, and at Facebook/Google/Amazon/other big tech firm you have less variance in pay.

That recruiter must have been pretty inexperienced to talk like that.

You should seriously question your compensation if a recruiter is willing to top you up 50k without a second thought. Chances are you are severely underpaid.

When you have another offer on the table the best move for the recruiter is to make the serious offer then and there and try take care of the situation to avoid any further bidding.

They want you for as cheap as they can get you but if someone else is willing to pay more then almost always they can afford it.

It was a google in house recruiter. The firm I had an offer from was known to hire highly vetted people

There are also a lot of fintech firms which pay more, and specifically advertise themselves as more 'hip' (e.g. Jane Street et al). Though I would imagine the good jobs are very hard to come by these days.


Worked there for 7 years, can confirm.

Can if I ask what makes you stay there? Also for perspective what type of role do you have their.

Started family, needed stable income and insurance, salary was still plenty to finance savings and a comfortable life in NYC. They also let me go remote without a second thought when I asked.

I quit last year to look after my kids and do my own thing, although the decision was driven more by boredom than any desire for more pay.

> worked

I sometimes wonder if I dressed better if I would be further along in my career, but honestly I think it's just made it really easy for me to identify people who understand and value my work.

There's this one guy high up in my company who I'm almost entirely convinced got his job because he wears nice suits and has an English accent. We have junior employees who know more about his area of speciality than he does.

They could also try a policy of not arresting developers who contribute fixes back to GPL projects too.

How so?

Do you have any links for this? it sounds pretty bad, but I guess there are certain nuances to it?

The GP is likely referring to this story:



I am just now realising that this case is still ongoing. That's crazy. A DA literally made it his mission to get the verdict reinstated:

'On April 4th, 2016, almost nine months after Aleynikov was acquitted by the NY Supreme Court, the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's office filed an appeal seeking to reinstate the guilty verdict'

Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I would not be surprised if Goldman kept applying pressure behind the scenes to ruin him.

Donation link to help fund appeal (his website): http://www.aleynikov.org

>'On April 4th, 2016, almost nine months after Aleynikov was acquitted by the NY Supreme Court, the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's office filed an appeal seeking to reinstate the guilty verdict'

how's this not double jeopardy?

Because it's still the same case going through the motions.

What I find more interesting is the following on the Manhattan DA's wikipedia:


'After Vance very publicly staged an accusation and spending 5 years and reportedly $10 million on prosecuting the Abacus Federal Savings Bank for larceny, the bank and its employees were found not guilty on all 80 charges. Despite its small size, the Chinese-American family-run bank was the only New York bank so charged during the Great Recession, despite Vance admitting that Citibank, among others, had behaved badly. The story is well told in Steve James' feature-length documentary, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, September 11, 2016.'

n=2 is not much but there is at least initial indication of a pattern where this DA is very specifically seeking cases where he is in a much better position (more manpower, resources) than the prosecuted party to win. Going after the little guy. Nice.

I like wearing a suit because i like looking good.

I like wearing a dress shirt and wool pants because I like looking good. I'm not allowed to wear a tie (heavens forbid a coat) because I'll scare the other engineers and developers. At my last job, I wore a dress shirt (with a collar) and jeans one day, and my coworkers made me go home and change into a t-shirt and jeans. Seattle/Redmond area btw, it's incredibly relaxed here.

Dude. The answer to that request is to laugh and say "if you think I'm going to rely on my personality to get laid, you're kidding yourself.". And then, just always dress well.

There's never anything wrong with looking the best you can. There are far worse things to be known for.

It wasn't a request. It was teammates constantly asking where I was interviewing across the day. One team member made that same "joke" four times in a row, in the span of a few minutes.

That seriously sucks.

"Must be an East Coast thing"

I can't recall being in any work situation since the 80's where dressing up was even a good idea. I mean, wearing suit, tie etc would identify you as being non-technical and hence not worth listening to.

Fascinating to hear that there are still workplaces with dress rules in 2017.

I don't think you understand who is thought to be "not worth listening to." This industry is filled with the software development equivalent of CAD technicians thinking they're engaged in deeply analytical work and are generally well respected simply because they can regurgitate some trite CS trivia.

The reality is that the effects of the industry's arrogance have simply shifted form over the years. You think being able to dress in shorts and thongs at work is a measure of being respected ("recognition that the quality of our work isn't measured by how we dress") but that's simply not true.

There are very few successful companies where more than a very small handful of technical people are listened to or respected.

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