Friday, December 19, 2008

Money and Ethics

I had a long and intimate discussion this morning with one of my career coaching clients. He had 27 years in the banking industry and moved up the line to middle management. His bank once had a culture that stuck close to the customer. But along came some kind of crunch and then a few years ago there was a merger, and the culture of the bigger fish financial business swallowed the bank's culture and everything changed (not overnight, but gradually, like the boiling frog).

Over a period of five to seven years the culture moved from customer-focused to bottom line focused, and guess what happened? The bank got into big trouble and is one of those involved in the current bailout. Heads are rolling and even the severance at this bank will disappear for everyone who leaves after December 31, 2008. Meanwhile the bonuses are still distributed. What's wrong with this picture? What's the ethical basis when good hard-working people with 20 plus years lose their six month severance, but other bottom line players get a 5MM bonus?

Until we as a nation get closer to the inherent value of work itself, until corporations follow those mission statements developed fifteen years ago and act like the words have meaning, until we wake up and look around to see how everything we do has repercussions, often in far off countries, we will continue to see the loss of our middle class and a rise in poverty, the likes of which most of us living have not seen. The inherent value of good work deserves to be rewarded. There are definitely jobs that have become obsolete, but there are also robbers (still) at the top who have mismanaged other people's money and swept away good middle income jobs in a game that fills the executive coffers and leaves many Americans struggling from paycheck to paycheck. The reckoning is coming and every one of us will feel the pain of this readjustment.  But it's less economic in its full picture and more about ethical, fair standards and the courage to reward work itself over leveraging paper to reflect money that was never there to begin with.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I came to wish merry Christmas and happy new year.Ciao dall'Italia.Eugenio