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Goldman Sachs EMEA tech chief 'bewildered' by reaction to bank relaxing its dress code

Lara O'Reilly
Executive Producer

Goldman Sachs made headlines around the globe earlier this year when the company announced a firm-wide flexible dress code.

Yet Goldman’s EMEA technology chief Jo Hannaford has revealed some employees at the investment bank were “a bit bewildered” about the level of publicity the announcement received.

“I don’t think we expected anyone to really care,” Hannaford said on Yahoo Finance UK’s Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded series. (Watch the full interview here.)

Hannaford said that her teams in Europe had already been following a more relaxed dress code for some time. “Who knew it was going to attract so much attention? I’m completely bewildered by it actually.”

Joanne Hannaford, head of EMEA technology at Goldman Sachs. Photo: Yahoo Finance UK

Alongside her London-based head of EMEA technology role, Hannaford is also the head of global quality assurance engineering at Goldman Sachs. For her teams, adopting more casual sartorial choice happened almost “automatically.”

Hannaford said: “If you’re an engineer and you’re coming in and working at your desk all day on a particular programming problem, who cares if you’re wear jeans? Does anybody even notice?”

Rather than send a long memo dictating what employees can and can’t wear to work, Hannaford says Goldman Sachs’ dress code was positioned more as a question of respect and making people feel comfortable.

“We decided to say, ‘We work in a really inclusive, diverse environment: Wear something that is going to be respectful of your colleagues,” said Hannaford.

The memo sent around last month did also suggest that Goldman’s bankers shouldn’t completely ditch their formal business attire.

“Of course, casual dress is not appropriate every day and for every interaction and we trust you will consistently exercise good judgement in this regard,” the memo read.

Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded is a new premium video series from Yahoo Finance UK. The show explores the stories of some of the most inspirational women across business, tech, and academia. Catch up on all the latest episodes here.