The Weinstein effect

“This is corporate culture, and all business, all corporate culture is going to make excuses for the person who is making them a lot of money.”

– Paul Feig, movie director, commenting on the Weinstein scandal

When one of six accountants in your finance department skims $25 from the petty cash box, the decision to fire him is fairly easy.

When your top salesman adds a false $25 lunch to his expense report, not so much.

Why? Because having the courage of our convictions often reveals how much “courage” we have and the strength of our “convictions”.

Decisions should not be based on how difficult it will be to implement them. Virtue requires that we separate the two elements. First, we decide what the right thing to do is. Then, we figure out how to do just that. The second should not influence the first.

I believe it was Ray Dalio who said that we create principles in good times to help us make decisions in bad times. We must decide in advance if we will tolerate liars, cheaters, thieves – and sexual predators – in our midst. When we don’t decide in advance, making the right decision in the middle of a crisis is supremely difficult.

All it typically does is reveal our lack of principles.

2 thoughts on “The Weinstein effect

  1. Easy enough to say…but what do you *do*, when you’re in that position with a slimy money-maker? When you need the job or you have to answer to the shareholders and the slimebag makes you pots o’ cash? When he only becomes a liability when his slimery is revealed to all?

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    1. I agree that this second decision is more difficult to make, but only once you’ve made the first decision to terminate. Your question suggest that the difficulty of the second decision is getting in the way of making the first one.

      One might decide, in advance, that putting food on the table for their children is more important than outing a thief at work. If that happens one day, keeping your mouth shut will be in line with your principles.

      One could also decide, in advance, that maximizing returns justifies unethical behavior (perhaps even more so when compensated with company stock).

      In all cases, these decisions made in advance reveal your principles. My point is that when we don’t decide in advance of a crisis, the decision we are eventually asked to make is less likely to be aligned with who we want to be.

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