Shortly after a gender discrimination lawsuit was filed against Point72, Steven Cohen’s private investment firm that he set up to manage his personal wealth, Douglas Haynes resigned as the firm’s president.
The lawsuit named Point72, Haynes, and Cohen as defendants in the lawsuit. Although the complaint did not accuse Cohen of misconduct, it did hold him responsible for what it alleges is a culture that promotes demeaning and underpaying female employees of the firm.
Haynes is specifically called out in the complaint about allegedly demeaning women. According to the lawsuit, Haynes allegedly called one of the women working for him a “dumb blonde” and kept the word “pussy” written on a whiteboard in his office for several weeks. Women were allegedly required to attend meetings with Haynes, and other men, in his office with the explicit reference to their genitals on display.
The lawsuit further alleges that women were underrepresented at the executive level, with only one woman making it to portfolio manager alongside 124 men.
Cohen set up the private firm after shutting down his last firm, SAC Capital Advisors, which admitted to insider trading and paid about $1.8 billion in fines and penalties to settle those charges. Haynes was brought in as president of Point72 specifically to help give the firm’s public image a boost by improving the company’s culture and proving to federal authorities that it could maintain high ethical standards.
Since Haynes allegedly failed to accomplish that goal, it’s hard to believe the current discrimination lawsuit against him doesn’t have something to do with his decision to resign, although the company insists that the two are unrelated. The company sent a letter to its employees on Friday in which it announced Haynes’s resignation while insisting it had nothing to do with the outstanding charges of discrimination and misconduct against him. Cohen said he would be taking over as president of the firm until a replacement for Haynes could be found.
Whether the lawsuit facing Point72 could interfere with the firm’s chances of going public remains to be seen. After a suspension from publicly managing hedge funds, which just ended this year, Cohen had been preparing to take Point72 public and begin managing an additional $2 million to $4 million from outside investors. But after Cohen’s public humiliation of a few years ago (although Cohen himself was never charged with misconduct, his association with the firm still left many investors wary of letting him manage their funds) the discrimination lawsuit is certainly another factor to consider when investors decide whether to trust Cohen’s new firm with their money.
The attorney representing the plaintiff in the gender bias lawsuit said that Haynes’s resignation will not have any effect on the impending litigation. According to a statement she gave The New York Times, they are still planning on aggressively pursuing her client’s claims against Haynes, as well as Cohen and Point72.
Changing a company’s culture requires much more than one man’s resignation – especially when the company operates in a heavily male-dominated industry.
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