Old White Men, Give It Up!

Old white men celebrating

Old white men, who run our corporate and civic institutions, shape up!

Enron. Arthur Andersen. The Catholic Church. R. Kelly. Michael Jackson. A litany of betrayal, corruption, cover-up and alleged misconduct with minors.

The men who run our most powerful and trusted institutions are being found out to be liars, thieves, cheats and worse.

Men, change or give it up.

A recent study commissioned by The Committee of 200 had some alarming, but not terribly surprising, news about the lack of equity for women in corporate America. The Committee of 200 is the professional organization of preeminent women entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. Researchers studied ten arenas comparing the progress of men versus women and assigned a score of 10 to indicate that women held parity with men in these measures. They looked at Wages (7.6), Corporate Officers (2.78), Venture Capital (1.1) and seven other domains. The overall average of these ten scores was 3.95. (Reported in the Feb 18, 2002 issue of Newsweek).

Inequality starts at the bottom and results in inequality at the top of American corporate leadership. A February 2004 report issued by Catalyst Research states that women hold only 13.6 percent of corporate director positions of Fortune 500 companies. Yet the same research company found that companies with more women in senior management positions financially outperform companies with proportionally fewer women at the top. How high? Would you believe a 35% higher Return on Equity and a 34% higher Total Return to Shareholders.

Men, you are robbing shareholders like me of a higher return on my hard-earned savings and hopes of eventual retirement by keeping yourselves in power and keeping better qualified women out.

Men, you are like little piggies that won’t share, wallow in filth and begrudge anyone else a bit of the common trough. Stop it!

Men, you are despoiling the environment, charging recklessly down a competitive track relentlessly pursuing profits at the cost of humane values and social justice. Stop it!

Men, you are beating women, abusing children, running out on your families and passing your prejudices down to a new generation of young people. Stop it!

Men, you are talking about family values and patriotism in the civic arena and then you cheat on your wives, cut programs that serve the disadvantaged while you treat yourselves to taxpayer funded health care, pensions and other perks while 44 million Americans have no health care and struggle to pay their bills. Stop it!

Men, you start wars that create millions of widows, orphans and refugees. You pay thugs to murder your own countrymen, look the other way at massive corruption and line your own pockets with the wealth that belongs to all the people of your nation. Stop it right this minute!

So, you men at the Top, and you know who you are, take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are conducting yourself and your professional life in a way that would make your mother proud.

The rest of us are getting sick and tired of your lying, thieving, grasping and violent ways.

Give it up. Retire peacefully or we will do it for you.

Thomas Tresser

Civic educator. Public defender.
May 2017

Originally submitted to Crain’s Chicago Business, June 5, 2002, revised August 4, 2004, for Newtopia.com



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