Business ethics should not be an oxymoron

A few days ago, my Mercury News 60 second business break e-mail listed three companies restating earnings—two in response to formal or informal regulatory investigations.

Half the time when I log into the Wall Street Journal there's yet another mention of options back-dating. These were cases where executives were miraculously granted options on days the price took a dip, such as these to one CEO. The Journal crunched this as 1 in 300 billion odds but the CEO called it "blind luck":

chart of three options grants

If you have access, I highly recommend the Journal's Perfect Payday coverage. In addition to consolidating articles and columns about the options back-dating, they have a regularly updated scorecard that now lists ninety companies in a broad range of industries. The table tracks whether they're under investigation by the SEC or Justice Department, any executives or directors that have departed, and if financials have been restated. Details give the latest updates on the company's claims of innocence and lawsuits being filed.

Gives one a warm fuzzy feeling, doesn't it?

And while executives are modeling behavior a robber baron could learn from, they're locking down their staff's Internet access to keep people from checking news, placing a quick Amazon order, or IMing a family member they'll be late to dinner during their 50 hour work weeks. Any chance we're breeding distrust and inviting misbehavior?

By the way, if you haven't see The Corporation, it's a fascinating perspective on corporate America.

That's enough rant for one day. <sigh>

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