"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
One of Churchill’s most famous quote 72 years ago straight after the Battle of Britain.
What an era that must of been. We live in a totally new era now. I believe in a very different and potentially more troubling time. The Banking industry in Europe, the UK and the US has done us a lot of damage over recent years. The European debt crisis is also driving the EU into the total unknown.
This brings me back to the Barclays saga. Bob Diamond the ex CEO has called the behaviour of some of the minority of his staff as reprehensible. We know that this minority were making a gain for their own personal need through a poor code of conduct. What we don’t know is how many others are out there like that. Clearly we understand that everybody needs to make a living and at the same time life is becoming more and more expensive. We must try to get the message across that we can also make a living by maintaining strong business ethics and personal code of conduct.
Mr Diamond has now been offered £22 Million in his lay off package by Barclays. This is going to be a true test of his character to see whether he accepts. Let me try to enlighten a little more wisdom here by adding a little EQ. The banking industry (as well as some other service sectors) in the last decade has caused so much harm to the wider society by so few what with our debt crisis, austerity measures, higher taxes and pension contributions for persons such as Mr and Mrs Jones who have worked very hard most of their lives.
Mr Diamond has already made £105 Million from working for one of the largest banks over this last ‘lost’ decade. Now he has been offered £22 million (€27.6 Million) ! Does he actually need it? Accepting it is surely going to hit big headlines. Is this not making a gain for his own personal need? This could be seen as no different to the reprehensible behaviour of some of his ex-employees.
I am certain other CEO’s from other sectors are aghast at the behaviour of some of their peers in the financial sector and would find these figures reprehensible and will certainly question its principle. The board in my view should never have offered this amount (they may have had no alternative as they must have been contractually obliged.) Mr Diamond has been presiding over large elements of a culture of greed and crookedness that requires change. He did not change it. He finds some of the behaviour of his ex-employees as reprehensible. He and his COO did the right thing to resign and waiving their annual bonus. To maintain your honour I would advise that perhaps waiving their own pay off package and perhaps to go as far as pay some money back to where it came from or forward it to where it is most needed.
It is a serious matter when we talk about re-instilling integrity and moral values. It is our duty as responsible citizens to erase the culture of greed where profit has become for personal gain and individualistic rather than the mentality of serving or contributing for others; this example has to start from the top. This is where people look to. They look at their leaders like they did when Winston Churchill was around. Gosh don't we miss him. An influential CEO must lead by example and also if need be resign by example. We must eliminate double standards. We must stop these mind boggling types of remuneration figures and extortionate pay off packages for discredited leadership even more so whilst the general public is suffering and making genuine sacrifices. There is a real danger of a general backlash. The public are not in the mood. This is how human nature works. We have seen this throughout history.
It seemed ironic the other day as I was asked by a normal good citizen what I did. ‘I help experienced people in training and their career direction with particular attention to the Banking and Financial services industry.’ I replied.
‘Oh yes’ she said. ‘They need help. They are so blind. Some of these persons with a lot of money can be so ignorant.’ She apologised for using such language as she did not really understand the technical aspects of what they did. I felt she totally grasped the issue at hand. Such simple language at times can send such a powerful message.
‘Never in the field of human existence has so much harm been done to so many by so few’