Lights on at Goldman: When good business continuity triggers criticism

By Dominic Cockram

Last week, while Hurricane Sandy continued to cause devastation across America’s east coast and floods in New York City had yet to subside, images of the Goldman Sachs building lit up against a dark skyline (see above) was shared across social media. While this beacon of light was testament to their rock-solid business continuity planning and preparation, many saw it as a symbol of corporate greed and all that is wrong with modern America.

Here are a choice few reactions from the Twittersphere:


It seems they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. There is public outcry when banks’ services fail, and there is every great pressure on financial services to be responsible for their own survival. Yet when a giant of the financial world proves its resilience they face yet another wave of opprobrium.

This highlights an important yet paradoxical aspect of business continuity management, which is perhaps unique to the financial services sector:

1. Have a crisis communications strategy in place for when your plans DO work, as well as when they don’t.

Goldman Sachs were quick to respond with a statement from spokesman David Wells: “We weren’t the only building with light, but we do have a generator. We’re not drawing power from the grid.”

Although the original version of Goldman shining amid the Manhattan black-out has surfaced (without heightened contrast and decreased brightness) shows this statement to be correct – plus the fact that Goldman are helping deliver emergency aid by encouraging residents to come to their stores in affected areas for water and charging facilities –  the image of decadence amid disaster will be hard for the bank to shake off.

The lights-on-at-Goldman image also shows us another important lesson:

2. Business continuity is worth investing in.

If your business can withstand even Hurricane ‘super-storm’ Sandy, then that’s proof that your plans are robust and your people are prepared.  Although with the public may see the beacon of shining like as a metaphor for inequality and injustice, I would be surprised if Goldman’s stakeholders were not impressed by their resilience and ability to keep running operations in the face of a national disaster.

@GoldmanSachsCharlie Walk on Instagram

About Dominic Cockram

Founder and MD of Steelhenge. Pioneer of simulation exercises with over 20 years experience in business continuity and crisis management. Dominic is an experienced speaker determined to make the world a more resilient place.

5 thoughts on “Lights on at Goldman: When good business continuity triggers criticism

  1. Pingback: Lights on at Goldman: When good business continuity triggers criticism « Malkia McLeod

  2. Pingback: Superstorm Sandy: A Resilience Round Up | Crisis Management

  3. It’s perfect time to make a few plans for the long run and it is time to be happy. I have learn this post and if I could I want to suggest you some fascinating things or tips. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read even more things about it!

  4. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in
    it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the
    message home a bit, but instead of that, this is great blog.
    A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.

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