1. Shelby Comin' Round the MountainPeopleSoft ( PSFT) doesn't have much of a reputation for encouraging a diverse workplace. And CEO Craig Conway, it appears, isn't helping matters. First, some history. About the last time PeopleSoft's commitment to employing minorities and women was in the headlines, it was because the company was accused of faking it. Two years ago, a California jury ruled PeopleSoft should pay a former employee $5.45 million for her wrongful termination in 1996 -- a firing the worker argued stemmed from her complaints that PeopleSoft was lying to the federal government by reporting inflated figures for women and minorities at the company. Let's skip ahead to February of this year, when one Michael W. Thomas, an African-American product consultant manager at PeopleSoft, was terminated. We won't go too far into the specifics of the firing other than to say Thomas believes he didn't get the "leeway" white employees have received; he has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. PeopleSoft won't comment on the case. Of most interest to us is how CEO Conway -- who joined PeopleSoft in 1999 -- reacted to the Thomas episode. See, on the eve of Thomas' official Feb. 20 termination, the aware-that-he-was-about-to-be-fired Thomas wrote an email to several executives at PeopleSoft alleging he was treated unfairly in the weeks leading up to the firing. The standard PeopleSoft procedure for employees needing "performance improvement" wasn't followed in his case, Thomas wrote. Corporate unhappiness with his work was both sudden and contrary to previous positive management feedback. A white manager with whom Thomas was familiar wasn't treated as strictly. "I have had discussions with other African Americans at PeopleSoft," wrote Thomas, "and the perception that the company was not sensitive ... to African Americans ... is very obvious." And how did Conway, whom Thomas cc'd on his email, react to the note? With a very short email back to Thomas, mostly this: "I am not familiar with your specific circumstances, so I can't comment. But I would recommend reading any of the writings of Shelby Steele or J.C. Watts before blaming your circumstance on race."
|Foot-in-Mouth Book Club |
Wow. Fighting words. For those of you who are not familiar with Steele or Watts, these men fall into the relatively tiny category known as Famous Black Conservatives.
2. A Diller, a Dollar, a Monetary ScholarWe're familiar with the expression "damning with faint praise," but we never really witnessed it on Wall Street until we met U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow. We're referring, of course, to Snow's comments in France last weekend about what makes a strong currency -- comments that sent the dollar on its merry downward spiral. What, indeed, makes a strong currency, according to Snow?
|Dollar's Snowfall |
"You want people to have confidence in your currency," The Australian Financial Review quotes him as saying. "You want them to see the currency as a good medium of exchange. You want the currency to be a good store of value. You want it to be something people are willing to hold. You want it hard to counterfeit, like the new $20 bill. Those are the qualities." Those are the qualities? That's it????? No wonder the dollar is going down the toilet. If those are the qualities, there's not much distinguishing a dollar bill and a Yu-Gi-Oh card.
3. You Made Your Lebed, Now Sleep in ItStill, maybe there's hope for this world after all. As the research lab pointed out recently, Jonathan Lebed -- the precocious tyke who became the youngest person ever accused of stock scamming by the Securities and Exchange Commission -- decided he had a gift for politics. Ah, the synergies. Anyway, Lebed
|Jon Corzine He's Not |
Jon Lebed reports a loss -- at polls
Lebed "impressed me very much, very quickly," says Zatorski, who works in financial computer systems design at Ricoh. "As he matures and gets more experience under his belt, I think he has the potential to really contribute," says Zatorski. We can hardly wait.
|Whittle's Riddle |
Time for remedial math class?
4. Do the MathSpeaking of kid stuff, we were glad to hear that the long-suffering for-profit educational company Edison Schools ( EDSN) "has executed a dramatic financial turnaround." That is, if you believe Chief Executive Chris Whittle, who made the turnaround comment in a press release issued May 14.
Unfortunately, there's a little problem with that scenario, as Bloomberg pointed out this week: Edison, as the company revealed in an SEC filing the day after Whittle's comment, is actually in default on $59.5 million worth of loans. Well, not exactly. As an Edison spokesman told Bloomberg, the company believed the issue was immaterial, because Edison received from its lenders a temporary waiver of the default, which relates to minimum net worth requirements for Edison, not a missed payment. Ah, yes, reminds us of our school days, back when a paper was due on Monday and we hadn't yet finished it by the following Friday. We had an extension, of course. So even if we handed in a paper the week after its original due date, we never handed it in late.