Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Corporate Bigotry No Joking Matter

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Corporate Bigotry No Joking Matter

Article excerpt

I remember an Eddie Murphy skit about a pair of bank loan applicants. Murphy, conservatively dressed and mannerly, is greeted by the bank officers, given forms to fill out, and, with a warm exchange of smiles all around, is assured that his application will be given every consideration. But as soon as the door closes behind him, the bank officers give each other a wink and a laugh and toss the application into the wastebasket.

Shortly afterward, a white guy enters, sits down and starts to fill out the application form. The officers tell him it's quite unnecessary, then escort him to the vault and throw the door open to him.

It was poignantly funny when Eddie did it, profoundly sad when Texaco was caught doing roughly the same thing. The details of Texaco's alleged discrimination are contained in a lawsuit that seems likely to be settled out of court. But Chairman Peter Bijur has admitted enough - and the secretly recorded words of some senior company executives are explicit enough - to suggest that something very fishy has been going on in the company. And not just with the 1990s whipping boy, the angry white blue-collar male. The newest allegations involve some of the company's top people - decision makers who have it well within their power to carry out or to frustrate company policy. Bijur, on ABC-TV's "Nightline" last week and in subsequent appearances, seemed genuinely anguished, and not just because of the public-relations nightmare created by the revelation of the tape recording. He seemed to mean it when he said the behavior demonstrated by the tape or alleged by the discrimination suit that preceded it would not be tolerated. Heads, he seemed to say, would roll. Well, of course. We are, after all, talking money here. The new revelations (whether the disputed word on the tape was "Nicholas" or something more incendiary) make the potentially costly discrimination suit virtually indefensible. Texaco stock already has taken a hit, and Jesse Jackson is talking up not just a boycott of Texaco gas stations but a South Africa style disinvestment campaign that would bring great pressure on institutional holders of the company's stock. …

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