Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Corporate Greed

There is something inherent in the large corporate environment that nurtures a certain trait in many people. Some see the behavior as competitive, a necessary skill in general for a business to stay on top. Competitiveness drives people to excel and perform, a positive activity that is rewarded. But too much focus on the individual can drive this trait out of control. Some self-serving individuals have found that the easiest way to achieve recognition and success is by taking advantage others. They prey on idealistic co-workers who actually believe that the corporate ideals of teamwork means everyone contributes and everyone benefits. They have no problem with stealing the work of others and putting their names on it, and justify their actions as some twisted example in their own minds of teamwork. I have worked with a few of these insipid individuals in my cubicle-riddled career, and I believe that while these snakes are found in all types of work environments, the large corporate world with its ID numbers and rubber stamp procedures adds a degree of anonymity that allows for a higher density of sleazy workers.

Because so many of them find rewards in their underhanded tactics, they remain and thrive while good and true human beings drop out, either in despair or disgust. So the density of disingenuous denizens increases. Many of these plagues on society move up the food chain into management and become the bad bosses that we encounter again and again in our careers. If their tactics continue to be rewarded, they move up to executive positions and are given limitless power. Some crawl their way up to CEO and CFO, where they can spread their rot throughout the company. There they can remain for a long time, safe in their caves, using people more and paying them less.

We can only hope that karma or justice or something else will eventually knock them loose. It does happen, occasionally. Look at Enron. The slimebags Lay and Skilling bilked employees and shareholders out of billions and ruined many lives so they could buy yachts and expensive parties for themselves. But justice eventually was served. In the case of Lay, it was the ultimate justice—he died before his sentencing was given (my condolences to his family) for his conviction of 10 counts of fraud and conspiracy. For Skilling, his 19 counts of fraud, conspiracy and insider trading landed him a 24-year sentence in a federal prison, which is basically a life term for this 52-year old slime, provided he doesn’t get out of it on appeal. So take heart, you overworked cube-dwellers…Justice sometimes does prevail.

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.” --Aristotle

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