Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Rules of the Road

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Rules of the Road

Article excerpt

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

Lord Acton's famous words, written more than 130 years ago, have proved an eloquent rebuttal to those who would promote political monarchies, oligarchies, or dictatorships. More recently, the quality of leadership and hierarchal structures at U.S. workplaces have been receiving similar rebuke.

Think the twenty drug companies on trial for price fixing, the mauling of innocent mortgage holders following the financial crisis, the repeated violations of privacy by large tech firms, the ubiquitous voice prompts that waste customers' time, and the widespread disgrace exposed by the #MeToo movement.

The mood of a growing number of workers and the body politic is increasingly fierce. "U.S. billionaires worry about the survival of the system that made them rich," The Washington Post reported in April.

CNN reported on congressional testimony in May by heiress Abigail Disney, who decried the way high CEO pay - like Disney CEO Bob Iger's - comes at the expense of the lowest-paid workers. Change is ccming. "We need to change the way we understand and practice capitalism," Disney said.

Walmart employees have been a bellwether of wha: we can expect. In recent years, they have used shareholder proxies and other means to influence the rules of the game, addressing issues like the basis for executive pay and family leave policies. In March, The New Yorker reported Walmart staff were seeking board seats at the company. …

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