Posted: Thursday 12th July 2012
The Barclays Libor story has now claimed its third casualty with the resignation of Bob Diamond from the board. This happened just 24 hours after the resignation of the Chairman, Marcus Agios and Chief Executive Officer, Jerry del Missier.
To me, it seems more like the forming of an orderly queue at the local church confessional than clear and detached business thinking. One wonders how many members of the board need to fall on their sword to return the company to peace and process stability. What does it say about the human desire for a scapegoat, and about our schadenfreude, that the Chairman, Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer of an organisation this complex must stand down?
Barclays, like other internationally positioned groups with multi-thousand employees in multi layer environments, has a compliance structure where decisions are taken at `local` level. Although the big picture is needed by the Chairman, is it really possible for him or her to be in possession of all the operational facts and decisions taken by team members further down the food chain? Are we satisfied that this resignation fever at the very top is recompense for the actions of perpetrators who may, in fact, remain unknown?
As usual, more questions than answers, but the media and shareholders calling for blood should now be happy. This is the latest example of corporate hara-kiri that has been witnessed many times in recent years.
In some cases, it is the right thing to do as fresh blood needs to be appointed to rebalance a rotten inner circle. However, in most cases the honourable and wished for action a Chairman should take is correcting what went wrong. Show the staff and shareholders that the spirit and business ethics they originally bought in still applies and burns brightly, and prove that the road to recovery will be swift and successful.
Much will have been learnt across many corporate landscapes from this recent spectacle, and I expect to see greater measures for the policing of corporate governance. But for me the whole affair has also raised legitimate questions about where the buck really stops in corporate management.