述古斋 / 英语学习 / 【双语阅读】亲爱的高盛,醒醒吧

分享

   

【双语阅读】亲爱的高盛,醒醒吧

2012-03-27  述古斋
亲爱的高盛,醒醒吧
 
 作者: Eleanor Bloxham    时间: 2012年03月20日    来源: 财富中文网

如果一家公司的CEO和企业文化在两周内接连受到法官和前雇员的公开指责,表明情况已经很严重了。高盛董事会会采取行动吗?
 

    不是每位离职员工都有机会在《纽约时报》(New York Times)的社论版大谈老东家,在高盛(Goldman Sachs)工作了12年的管理人士格雷格?史密斯上周三就利用这个机会痛斥了高盛的领导文化及其董事会。

    史密斯写道,个人能否升职取决于他们能给公司赚到多少钱,就算客户利益受损也在所不惜。他声称“(高盛)现任首席执行官劳埃德?布兰克费恩和总裁盖瑞?科恩任职期间丧失了对公司文化的控制”,“道德水准的下降是高盛长期生存能力面临的最大挑战。”他还写道:“我希望这件事可以为董事会敲响警钟……重振企业文化,让人们能有正当的理由继续留在高盛工作。”

    此事对高盛董事会确实堪称当头棒喝。

    人们不禁怀疑,到底多响亮的警报声才能唤醒昏昏欲睡的高盛董事会。上上周,一位法官称,布兰克费恩显然参与了说服客户埃尔帕索公司(El Paso Corporation)在一宗高盛具有利益冲突的交易中与其合作的事宜,消息迅速成为头号新闻。在此之前,高盛报告称,美国证券交易委员会(SEC)正在调查其客户披露问题,这也是高盛的老问题了。

    远离高盛震中的人已经听到了警报声,这一切发生时,高盛董事会在哪里呢?高盛拒绝就史密斯的文章发表评论,但告诉《纽约时报》,它不同意史密斯的观点,声称客户的成功对高盛具有重要意义。

    布莱克费恩和科恩在一份致员工的备忘录中并没有理会史密斯的批评,称他的意见并不能代表大多数员工的观点。或许的确如此,但至少上周三晚间《纽约时报》的文章以及上周四早间彭博社(Bloomberg)的文章都在一定程度上驳斥了这种说法。另外,还有另外一些利益相关者可能也赞同史密斯的观点,这一点非常重要。

    乔治城大学(Georgetown University)法学教授拉斯?斯蒂文森上上周告诉我,投资银行界的“自我认知已发生了巨大变化”。过去,他们认为自己要为产品担保,作为“资本市场的看门人”,扮演有价值的社会角色。斯蒂文森称,如今这些价值观都已经丧失了。

    美国证交会对于布莱克费恩和高盛董事会来说重要吗?布莱克费恩和科恩没有在致员工的备忘录中提到最近的报道,也没有提到与美国证交会的摩擦。上个月,证交会主席玛丽?夏皮罗描述了对这类公司持续执法监督的必要性——上周三,调查新闻网站Propublica回顾了过去12年高盛状况频出的监管历史。面对所有这些问题,高盛董事会原本有几次机会警醒过来,采取行动。

    去年,外界纷纷质疑高盛在这场金融危机中扮演的角色时,高盛董事会在审查公司业务实践评估(Business Practice Review)时就错过了一个大好机会。这份区区67页的文件充满了陈词滥调,但却在解决员工面临的道德难题上缺乏实质性内容。上周三,高盛告诉《纽约时报》,客户的成功对公司具有重要意义。但如果你卖的是自己都称之为“垃圾”的东西,买家和卖家谁的利益到底哪个更重要不是明摆的事情吗?

    Not every departing employee gets the chance to sound-off on a former employer in a New York Times op-ed, but Greg Smith, an executive who had worked at Goldman Sachs (GS) for 12 years, took that opportunity yesterday in a forceful indictment of Goldman's leadership culture and its board.

    Individuals are promoted based on the money they bring in even if clients are harmed, Smith wrote. Suggesting that "the current chief executive officer, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and the president, Gary D. Cohn, lost hold of the firm's culture on their watch" and that "this decline in the firm's moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival," he wrote: "I hope this can be a wake-up call to the board of directors … get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons."

    A wake-up call for the board, indeed.

    One wonders how much louder the alarm must ring before the drowsy Goldman board stirs. Last week, a judge's description of Blankfein's apparent role in persuading its client El Paso Corporation to work with Goldman in a conflicted situation was top news. The week before, Goldman reported that the SEC is looking into client disclosure issues, an alleged continuing problem at the firm.

    Others much further from Goldman's epicenter have heard the alarm, so where is the bank's board in all of this? Goldman Sachs declined to offer comment for this article but told the New York Times that the company disagreed with Smith and that clients' success does matter to Goldman.

    In a memo to employees, Blankfein and Cohn brushed off Smith's criticisms, saying his opinions did not represent general employee viewpoints. This may be so, although it was at least partially disputed in a New York Times article late yesterday and a Bloomberg article this morning. But there are other stakeholders who find Smith's descriptions apt, and that does matter.

    Georgetown University Law Professor Russ Stevenson told me last week that there has been a "dramatic change in self perception" among investment banks. They used to see themselves as vouching for their product, as acting as a "gatekeeper to the capital markets" and providing a valuable social role. That has been lost, Stevenson said.

    Is the SEC at all relevant to Blankfein and Goldman's board? Blankfein and Cohn did not mention the recent headlines or scrapes with the SEC in the memo to employees. Last month, SEC Chair Mary Schapiro described the need to continuously police these kinds of firms -- and yesterday, Propublica traced Goldman's troubled regulatory history over the last 12 years. With all of these troubling instances, the current board has had several opportunities to awaken and act.

    The board failed to seize a big opportunity last year when it oversaw the bank's Business Practice Review amid the fallout surrounding the company's role in the financial crisis. That inadequate 67-page document was big on platitudes but small on substance in addressing the ethical conundrums employees face. Goldman told the Times yesterday that client success mattered to the firm. But in the instance in which you are selling what you call junk, does only the seller's success matter and not the buyer's?

 

 



    真正的问题是,客户的成功究竟有多重要?它比公司短期利润还要重要吗?

    弄清到底什么才能最大限度地创造客户成功意味着高盛不仅要促成金融交易,也要给客户最合适的建议,并以客户的最大利益为落脚点行事。如果高盛打算公开声称这就是其客户关系的实质,它一定要非常确定自己做到了言行一致。从高盛的监管历史看,很难想见该公司达到了这个标准。而且,不幸的是,在此届董事会任期内,业务实践评估并没有表现出深刻的反思,也使得这一愿望更难获得推进。

    上周三,董事会又错过了另一个机会。它不该对史密斯的批评充耳不闻,而应该敦促首席执行官认真严肃地对待这些指责。它应该利用这一机会与员工和其他人沟通,表明董事会将行动起来,了解应该采取什么样的措施,让所有的员工和利益相关者相信高盛确实做到了言行一致。

    相反,董事会却放任布莱克费恩和科恩采取了这样一种做法:将史密斯的批评视为失控的言论而置之不理。它很有可能会在未来堵住检举者的嘴。如果他们甚至敢于公然采取这样的做法,私下里还会做出些什么呢?

    董事会应该亲自采取行动。如果一家公司的首席执行官在两周时间内接连被一位法官和一位前雇员公开指责,表明情况已经相当严重。

    如果所有的当事人都嘲笑史密斯太幼稚,所有人都应该知道高盛本来就像史密斯描述的那样恶劣不堪,这难道不值得警醒吗?

    上个月,我和一些董事们聊了聊,他们效力的公司在50家左右。他们相信,监督企业文化是董事会最重要的职责之一,还说,这项职责包括纠正高管们在对待员工、声誉和道德方面的短视行为。当然,调整晋升和薪酬等用人体系也是纠正错误文化的重要途径。

    这些董事称,好的董事会需要知道中低层员工的想法,了解那些敢于直言的员工,倾听他们的意见,不能因为呆得太久而看不到公司及其文化存在的问题。许多董事会都会创造机会在不同场合会见中低层员工。一位董事谈到他的董事会的做法。当时,董事会在会议前夜邀请了中层经理出席董事会晚宴,而且首席执行官及其他高管都不在场。结果,董事会发现,这是了解真实情况的一个绝佳途径。

    布莱克费恩已在高盛董事会服务九年,有些高盛董事的服务期也已经长达7-13年。这些人是不是待的时间太久了?麻木到犯困了?嗨,高盛董事会,你们还醒着吗?

    本文作者埃莉诺?布洛斯罕是董事会咨询机构价值联盟及公司治理连门(The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance,http://thevaluealliance.com/)的首席执行官。

    How much, exactly, does client success matter is the real question. Does it matter more than short-term profits?

    Figuring out what would best create client success would mean that Goldman would not just be facilitating financial transactions, they would advise clients in what best suited them and act in their interest. If Goldman wants to say publicly that is the nature of its client relationships, it needs to be darn sure it plans to live up to the advertising. It is hard to see how the firm has been living up to that standard based on its regulatory history. And, unfortunately, on this board's watch, the business practice review was not sufficiently well thought-out to move that aspiration forward.

    The board missed another opportunity yesterday. Instead of brushing off Smith's comments, the board should have ensured that the CEO took the allegations seriously. It should have used this opportunity to communicate to employees and others that it would move to understand what actions would make all employees and stakeholders comfortable that Goldman's deeds match their words.

    Instead, the board allowed Blankfein and Cohn to take the tact most likely to shut down future whistleblowers: reject Smith's comments as out of hand. If they are willing to do this in public, what goes on behind closed doors?

    The board itself should be taking action. It's serious when your CEO has been publicly called out by both a judge and an employee in a two-week timeframe.

    And shouldn't it be a wake-up call when stakeholders mock the employee whistleblower for being na?ve, implying that everyone should know that Goldman is as bad as Smith made it sound?

    Last month, I spoke with directors who sit on the boards of approximately 50 different companies and who believe the board's role in overseeing the corporate culture is one of its most important jobs. That role includes responsibility for redirecting any senior management myopia toward its people, reputation, and ethics, directors say. Of course, righting HR systems of promotions and compensation are primary ways to correct cultural miscues.

    Good boards need to know what individuals think, down inside the hierarchy, and get the views of those who will speak up and aren't already so embedded they can't see the problems in the organization and its culture, these directors say. While many boards create opportunities to meet with lower level staff in a variety of settings, one director spoke about how his board invites middle managers to the board dinner, the night before the board meeting, without the senior executive team or CEO present. That board has found it a great way to get the real lay of the land.

    Blankfein has been on the Goldman board for nine years and some Goldman directors have served terms ranging from seven to 13 years. Are some too embedded? Where have their hearts and minds been? Hello, Goldman board. Are you awake?

    Eleanor Bloxham is CEO of The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance (http://thevaluealliance.com), a board advisory firm.

    本站是提供个人知识管理的网络存储空间,所有内容均由用户发布,不代表本站观点。请注意甄别内容中的联系方式、诱导购买等信息,谨防诈骗。如发现有害或侵权内容,请点击一键举报。

    0条评论

    发表

    请遵守用户 评论公约

    类似文章 更多