Wednesday, 31 August 2011


The Shred Goodwin going off on one about pink wafer biscuits story that’s doing the rounds the now is interesting I guess, so interesting you can read about it here, here, here, here, here, etc., And as is intended it will help sell the book the juicy details are taken from, its just it’s not news. Now by that I don’t mean its not news because it refers to stuff in the past or even that I know a couple of really toe-curling stories about the man. Nope, not me, not on your life guv “ahem”. Nah, what I mean is pretty much everything getting quoted now was detailed here in a Times article dated March 2009 i.e. over 2 years ago when a former employee spoke to the Times and Vince Cable about how the Shred actually behaved.

Now this puts the book being puffed in a whole new light cos it suggest that for the authors deep research equals clicking the top twenty hits on google for Fred Goodwin. This presumably also applies to everyone whose got column inches out of it the past week unless they were even lazier and simply regurgitated whatever they were emailed by the book's publishers, which is a shame when you think about it because a CEO threatening to have people disciplined over pink biscuits actually raises all sorts of bigger issues about corporate governance and corporate life more generally, no seriously.

Here, I’ll give some examples; the story about having an engineer at the ready to switch off the fire alarms when RBS executives fancied smoking indoors (big, fat cigars presumably) firmly equals there being one rule for the workers and another for executives. And being deeply hypocritical it undermines the credibility of those in charge.

Then there's the pink wafer disciplining story itself, which makes me wonder what in fucking christ the HR department was like. There’s this thing called employment law whereas here HR appear to be either the executive's bullying hitwomen or else supine sycophants (did I say or else, I meant both). Now this is particularly “funny” given the RBS HR director at the time was regularly feted by the HR industry as being amongst its most influential figures, which renders said industry’s judgement somewhat suspect as a result.

What else is there … the Sir Shred getting the carpets changed cos they were the wrong shade of whatever suggests someone with an obvious attention to detail, but also a dictatorial, micro-management style with no sense of proportion and potentially psychotic tendencies. So given Sir Shred was voted Forbes global businessman of the year in December 2002, can we perhaps have some management gurus and associated detritus providing a more honest assessment of what “leadership” actually entails (i.e. fucktards like the cunt discussed here)?

Finally, there’s the stories of Sir Shred's personal extravagance like getting fresh fruit flown in from Paris with the guilty culprits here being the RBS Group board. That it was fruit not pan au chocolat highlights the taste of the people we’re talking about here and it’s not good. But, parking that for a mo, the board’s CEO was clearly quite the one for pissing away shareholders cash on his own personal foibles in a where the fuck was was Sir Shred's legendary reputation for cost-cutting when all this was going on type style? So did the board turn a blind eye because they were also rather partial to a nice peach, where they at too much of a remove to know any better, did they take the view that the CEO should be allowed to do whatever he liked so long as the share price kept rising or was the board stuffed with patsies who aren't fit to sit on the board of any other company again, ever? Like what kind of fucking governance was in place here? (oops that calls into question the FSA's judgement doesn't it)

I said finally, but actually besides the obvious point that all of the above questions are generic enough to be asked of any other PLC, for me what’s potentially the real story appeared in June this year. Rather than the current huffing, puffing and titillating about old stories all the while assuming Shred’s pension is some kind of immutable injustice, its the thing about whether his conduct as a CEO broke company policy (or policies) to the extent that he should have been dismissed rather than pensioned off i.e. can the cunt’s package be taken off him, that I reckon is of greater interest. You see it was reported in June (in relation to Sir Shred’s affair with an RBS employee) that he’d “not told any friends or colleagues” whereas my naïve and imperfect understanding of company conflict of interest policies is that they usually entail telling people. Funny dat.

But, yeah, pink wafers eh? Oh how ghastly etc., etc., Thank fuck none of the executives or board members are still sat in big boardrooms scoffing peaches and smoking cigars. Ooops, turns out they are.

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