Monday, August 26, 2019

Molotov Monday.

It seems like the CEOs who run America’s $19.39 trillion economy had an epiphany sometime last week.

They claim to have finally realized that there’s something more important than shareholders. There’s something more important than next quarter’s numbers. There’s something more important than doing whatever it takes (despoiling the earth, not paying middle-class wages) to make your stock price go up.

Their statement on the Purpose of a Corporation is below:

As Andrew Ross Sorkin put it in yesterday’s New York Times,For nearly a half-century, corporate America has prioritized, almost maniacally, profits for its shareholders. That single-minded devotion overran nearly every other constituent, pushing aside the interests of customers, employees and communities.”

Sorkin is no Johnny-come-lately on the economics scene. He’s been writing for the Times since 1995 (when he was in high-school). He’s also written “Too Big to Fail: How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System — and Themselves,” and is co-creator of the acclaimed Showtime series, “Billions.” When he has something to say, especially when it pertains to business, I listen.

Sorkin reported in his New York Times’ blog “Deal Book,” “that 181 chief executives have lent their signatures to a new ‘Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation’ that was published by the Business Roundtable on Monday. The statement from the leaders of companies including JPMorgan Chase, Apple, Amazon and Walmart affirms that the nation’s largest companies have a ‘fundamental commitment’ to all their stakeholders: putting employees, suppliers and communities on a pedestal that once belonged only to shareholders executives.”

That’s well and good.

But doing a little further reading, I found this information, buried deep in another Times’ article on the matter:
the highest-paid 100 chief executives make 254 times the salary 
of an employee receiving the median pay at their company. Here’s a website that shows how much 100 of the nation’s top CEOs earn and the CEO pay to median worker pay ratio.

The highest-paid 100 chief executives make 254 times the salary of an employee
receiving the median pay at their company. 

But wait, it gets even more Snidely-Whiplash. The cheery neo-fascist “Wall Street Journal” reported yesterday,
 “Big companies tend to pay their chief executives big bucks—that much is widely known. 
Less familiar: Many of those CEOs wind up receiving much more, often well after the compensation is initially disclosed. 
The $190 million that Oracle Corp. reported paying co-CEO Mark Hurd over three years was valued at $535 million by the end of that period. At consulting firm Gartner Inc., the $33.6 million of pay for Eugene Hall swelled to $65.7 million. The $53 million McDonald’s Corp.  reported paying Stephen Easterbrook grew to about $85 million.
 … intricate pay structures … can multiply the number of shares and options those awards ultimately provide….
On average, the value of the pay at the end of the period was 16% higher than originally disclosed. Pay rose at three out of five companies. And at a third of companies, pay rose by more than 25%.”
As I grow older and older in the advertising business, every day I feel more and more like a cat on a hot tin roof. Part of that is I have an old-timer's salary. But more is some of us have honed our old-timer's sense of outspoken-ness.
If in agencies fewer than 5% of employees are older than 50, probably fewer than 2% actually speak their mind--actually call bull-shit on the dominant complacency, actually say, 'what does that mean?' or 'that's bland,' or 'that's well-produced but empty,' or 'prove to me that no one reads,' or, the heresy or all heresies, 'what does agile mean and what does it have to do with me?'

The required unanimity of thought, the conformity and compliance that's demanded today has un-done our business as efficiently and surely as the aforementioned rapacious CEOs.
I feel like that elevated feline because if you're old and honest and voluble, you won't last long. That's three strikes.
And I worry about that. Oh well.
At least I can go to sleep at night knowing America's CEOs are ok.

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