What a dog’s breakfast. If you’ve been following the Seven West sex scandal in every excruciating installment you’re probably as gob-smacked as me. In case you haven’t been, here’s a quick recap:
The CEO of a publicly listed company acknowledges a sexual affair with a former executive assistant following her allegations of intimidation, drug use and misappropriation of corporate including using corporate credit cards to pay for hotel rooms, flights and taxis for their sexual rendezvous (but he denies any wrong doing, and allegations of having affairs with multiple colleagues).
The ex-mistress-to-the-CEO takes her rage to social media, mad as a cut snake and (she says) through lack of other options. She begins a very public stoush with other Board members on twitter including former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett. And she publishes the lewd text messages and creepy letters from the CEO – issued on company letterhead – as she goes. She has also lodged complaints to the ASX and ASIC.
The Board issues a report exonerating the CEO from any wrong-doing (surprise, surprise), at the same time as a talented fellow Director (who is also a commercial lawyer with leading Australian law firm Gilbert + Tobin) resigns from the Board (after only two years in the role). The company notice to the ASX says nothing to explain why the Director has resigned (I think we can join the dots).
The loyal wife of the CEO and their four teenage children are sucked into the vortex of life in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. This is despite the CEO stating categorically that for him, that “family always comes first”. And of course he is sorry for the distress this matter has caused to them.
The Australian Shareholders Association is calling for the CEO to be replaced (understandably, given the 8% drop in share price as the news story broke and ongoing distraction and attention for all the wrong reasons).
The Board has acknowledged spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of shareholder funds on legal fees on this matter, on top of the payments already made to the former EA including the initial payment of $100,000 (which appears to have been funded by a $100,000 reduction in the CEO’s bonus entitlement).
And all because he couldn’t keep his dick in his pants.
Seriously, this could be a soap opera… or better still a reality TV show.
At my tender young age of just 44 years, some things still surprise me in life. Like this story. Like how the CEO of a television network (he has since become the CEO of the entire Seven West Media Group) thinks it’s ok to shag a junior member of staff. Especially when he has a wife and four kids at home.
Like how stupid the former EA was for agreeing to the affair. Because we know how women come off in situations like this regardless of the circumstances (think Monica Lewinsky, and more locally Kirsty Fraser-Kirk just for starters).
Like how forgiving the CEO’s wife has been thus far. Well I guess with four kids at home she’s got a lot at stake too. Perhaps she can reach out to other betrayed wives for advice on how to press on. Any advice to share, Hillary?
Worner got one thing right back when he stepped up from CEO of the Seven Network to CEO of the Seven West Media group: “This position comes with a lot more scrutiny – and, as the leader of the business, it should.”
Well, Tim Worner, we are watching and as far as it goes, you’ve shown us an example of leadership at its worst.
So what can we learn from this about how to lead in business?
- That bosses should never shag the staff, but if they do they’ll likely get away with it. This is called power imbalance. It may not be right, but it isn’t uncommon. As a boss of mine once told, “rank has privileges”.
- That means those lower down the food chain need to look after themselves. And know that it’s never, in other words NEVER, a good idea to shag the boss. Because you will inevitably ALWAYS come off second best.
- And that for the ultimate leaders of this company – the Board of Directors – there’s a clear divide as to the standards of morals and ethics. I’ll be watching with interest to see how shareholders respond to this over the long term.