The big news at the moment in terms of American values? The AIG “give backs.” Today, I want to hear from you. Did they do it for the right reasons?
More importantly, what causes you to “do the right thing” — even in tough times?
According to news reports, most of the AIG executives who got the big bonuses have agreed to give the money back. This agreement was spurred by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who said of those who returned the money: “You have done the right thing. You have done what this country now needs and demands. We are living in a new era of corporate and individual responsibility.”
That’s a very charitable interpretation of AIG executives’ actions, which, I conjecture, wouldn’t have happened without the public outrage.
In his press conference last night, Obama reiterated that the AIG bonuses were symptoms of a larger culture: “You know, there was a lot of outrage and finger-pointing last week, and much of it is understandable. I’m as angry as anybody about those bonuses that went to some of the very same individuals who brought our financial system to its knees, partly because it’s yet another symptom of the culture that led us to this point.”
How about executives who do the right thing – without the public outrage we talked about on Monday, or having their top executives on the “Most Wanted” list for creating the financial mess in the first place, or having an attorney general hound them?
Yes, executives like that actually exist. One is Al Schultz, CEO of Livonia, Michigan-based Valassis. The company’s upper-level executives are contractually entitled to receive bonuses. Yet here is what happened as told by Dan Mulhern, author of “Everyday Leadership” and First Gentleman of the State of Michigan.
Al “did not throw up his hands, powerless in facing these contractual obligations. Instead, he asked – in light of tough times that had included employee layoffs — that the executives offer their bonuses to the board to use in the best interests of the company. Every single executive — through what we can assume were varying mixes of moral duty, corporate commitment, peer pressure, and boss-pleasing behavior — passed on his or her contractually entitled bonus. Many thanked Al for asking them to do what they thought was the right thing.” (You can read this story at Dan’s blog, or listen to it on his radio program.)
Do you know of other companies that have done the right thing?
Is there a Hall of Fame to counter the Hall of Shame we listed on Tuesday?
And how about you? What moves you to keep doing the right thing — even when you’re suffering?
Please, add a Comment, even if it’s brief.
Or, if you prefer, drop us a quick Email.
you support what the Democrats are trying to do, or do you think such
action will impair AIG’s ability to retain “the best and the brightest”?