Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Corporate Bonuses & The Power Of Public Opinion

AMF Pension, Volvo, AIG, Investor, Saab, Electrolux, Ericsson, ABB, Carnegie and who knows how many other companies, have all been the subject of media attention in recent weeks with both the government and the general public openly verbalising their criticism.

In the midst of bankrupties, tumbling share prices, lay-offs, staff salary cuts, plumeting profit margins, government backing, cancelled dividends and pension devaluation top management in these companies has continued to receive staggering increases in their salaries and bonuses.

The greatest criticism in the last week has been of Annika Falkengren, CEO of Swedish bank SEB who was in line to get a massive payrise from sek 7 million to sek 9 million per annum. With SvD reporting that something like 89% of their readers were ready to change banks, on Saturday she apologized to both the bank's employees and customers and backed down on the salary increase.

As always I think it is fantastic to see public opinion can have a positive effect and let's hope it brings some of these people down to earth - where the rest of us live.

What was also interesting to see today was the media having a field day with her recent apology and her rhetorical approach. A direct comparison was done in Metro and E24 of her exclusive attire during the quarterly report vs her girl-next-door attire during her apology on the weekend.

Initially I thought Metro's comparison of her expensive black business suit, exclusive scarf, fancy earings, pearls, rings and bracelet to her simple pink top, discrete earings and general lack of jewellry was a little harsh - but as I looked around in the media I saw they were not alone in this analysis and use of the term poodle. I can't help but find this very obvious change very interesting.

I have also learnt a new word, or phrase. To do a poodle is to backdown from a hopeless standpoint or statement and try and put a stop to the damaging discussion that results from the original standpoint or statement.

If you read Swedish then you can read all about Annika Falkengren's poodle-ing. E24 1, E24 Recently poodle-ing
Otherwise you will have to settle for reading more about her blunder and apology on The Local.

At least Skandia Liv were smart enough to renounce their bonuses SvD & DN, even if AMF Pension are again in deep water SvD, DN & The Local.

Is there no end to their greed or lack of morals?

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