There’s a new documentary in the works in which I had the opportunity to participate just last week.
The three part series, tentatively titled Gray Areas, is in production by WNET, which is the flagship public station of the New York City tri-state area, WNET, the most watched public television channel in the country. I was honored as they have a reputation for being one of the most respected and innovative PBS stations. Plus, notice I said the New York City tri-state area, home to Wall Street! Which means more attention and more eyes on the perpetrators of some of the most massive fraud we’ve yet experienced in this country.
Gray Areas will use case studies to explore important and serious ethical questions that businesses are faced with today. Mary Ann Rotondi, the award winning producer contacted Adam Waytz, assistant professor of management at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, after reading an article summarizing the Kellogg business case about Sherry Hunt’s and my experience at Citigroup, “How Citibank’s Culture Allowed Corruption to Thrive”. The case won Waytz, and Vasilia Kilibarda, also at Northwestern, an international award for the “Outstanding Case Study on Anti-Corruption,” given by the United Nations Compact Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) and Giving Voice to Values (GVV) presented at the North American Case Research Association (NACRA) conference. The Kellogg case, which is currently used in business schools around the world, was referenced in a prior post.
Ms. Rotondi plans on including commentaries from prominent ethics professors from some of our best business schools in an effort to help further the need for an on-going conversation about ethics, responsibility and character (or lack thereof) in the work place. She believes that many of us face and have faced situations similar to mine and Sherry’s at Citigroup.
Part of her goal is to create a more ethical work environment in business and to encourage employees who may be faced with similar situations to ours to make the right choices and perhaps suffer less retaliation.
The segment highlighting Citi that I participated in, tentatively named “Honest Work,” so far includes interviews with Sherry, Professor Waytz and Bob Ivry, the Bloomberg writer who wrote about Sherry Hunt, Citi and our ordeal for Bloomberg Markets Magazine.
During the interview, I briefly described what happened at Citi. I talked about the culture of greed as a driving force and the constant push to increase profit at any cost and the significant incentive compensation management enjoyed, which also provided incentive for management to ignore my warnings. Incidentally, on my way back from Chicago, where we filmed, I saw a new article, “How to Fix Wall Street’s Flawed System of Compensation,” which referenced some of these Wall Street compensation issues in the New York Times Dealbook, written by my friend, William D. Cohan.
In the article, Cohan quotes economist Charles Goodhart, who, at a very recent European Central Bank forum in Sintra, Portugal, wondered aloud why prudential regulators of the world’s financial system had spent so much time in recent years worrying about capital ratios and liquidity and so little time worrying about Wall Street governance and pay practices. These issues, he said, “much more fundamentally influence personal incentives and therefore business decisions.”
Rotondi hopes to air this first segment prior to this years’ elections. Hopefully this will call more attention to Wall Street and TBTF issues as this is the market area WNET covers. So my few minutes of fame, albeit most of the interview may wind up on the cutting room floor, may do some good in continuing to raise awareness of the continuing fraud, greed and corruption so rampant on Wall Street.
Every person who learns more about the financial situation this country is faced with; every person who experiences the egregious lack of ethical behavior in their company that Sherry Hunt and I did; every voice that speaks up about this financial travesty is a step in assuring this does not continue nor ever happens again.