Bah! Humbug! Goldman Sachs says no to Christmas party

By Jessica Toonkel Marquez

Nov 12, 2009 @ 11:08 am (Updated 9:04 am) EST

In an attempt to keep a low profile, The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has told its employees that it won't be hosting a corporate Christmas party this year. The investment bank is also prohibiting employees from funding their own parties, an insider at the firm told InvestmentNews.

The Christmas party ban comes as Goldman has been under sharp public criticism for paying bigger bonuses this year while national unemployment hovers at 10.2% and many workers have taken pay cuts.

In the third quarter, the company announced a profit of $3.19 billion and said it has set aside nearly half of its revenue to reward its employees. Last year, Goldman paid out $4.8 billion in bonuses, awarding 953 employees at least $1 million each and 78 employees at least $4 million. The rewards this year are expected to be greater. Melissa Daly, a spokeswoman, confirmed that Goldman will not host a Christmas party this year and that it didn't hold one in 2008. She could not comment on whether the company is banning employees from holding their own parties.

Given the shaky economic climate, it makes sense that Goldman is putting the kibosh on holiday festivities, said Steven Hall, managing director of Steven Hall & Partners LLC, an executive compensation shop.

“The last thing they want are pictures showing up of lavish parties while everyone is talking about their paying lavish bonuses,” Mr. Hall said. “This is just not the time to be flaunting it.”