The Accountability Blog

What is the Purpose of a Corporation?

CEOs from the Business Roundtable, including the leaders of huge companies like JPMorgan Chase, Apple, and Amazon, made major headlines recently. They came together with the stated aim of redefining business’s role in society. Overturning decades of business-school orthodoxy that embraced economist Milton Friedman’s pronouncement that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits,” the nearly 200 CEOs signed off on a statement about the “purpose of a corporation.” This statement explicitly acknowledged

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Accountable Corporate Culture: Did You Get the Memo?

How easy is it to believe you have an accountable corporate culture, but be 100% wrong about that? Too easy. Consider the case of easyJet. Do a search on “easyJet values” and you will eventually come across the following two sentences, posted prominently on the low fare airline’s “what we do” web page. We never compromise on safety.  Safety underpins everything we do. That looks good on a web page, and it’s certainly among the

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American Airlines Has an Accountability Problem

Did you happen to see the recent story about how American Airlines humiliated a passenger by informing her that she would not be able to fly unless she covered up her strapless outfit? It was really a story about an accountability problem. Dr. Tisha Rowe, who was wearing a perfectly appropriate summer romper, was told, in front of her son, “You are not getting on the plane dressed like that.” She donned a blanket in

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Beyond Superman: Accountable Leadership Is Interdependent Leadership

One of the traps we sometimes fall into as leaders is imagining that we are not dependent on anyone else. We convince ourselves that we alone are capable of securing the outcomes that lead to whatever we define as “success.” We may even convince ourselves that we as individuals are more indispensable than anyone else on the team…and that we, therefore, matter more than the team matters. In reality, the team comes first! All human

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KPMG’S Ethics Crisis — and the Lesson It Teaches Leaders About Accountability

KPMG is one of the “Big Four” accounting firms, a global audit, tax, and advisory network of service firms that has made big news in recent years for a slew of controversies about serious ethics lapses. Such controversies are problematic in any industry, but they are particularly troubling in the world of high-profile accounting. Why? Because an unshakeable commitment to ethics, impartiality, and high professional standards is the true “product” KPMG sells its clients and

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Corporate Values: No Such Thing as “Aspirational Values”

I work with a lot of senior corporate leaders. One of the things I notice is that some of them are a little confused about the concept of corporate values. They often talk about personal and corporate values in the abstract, almost as hypothetical behaviors attitudes, as though their personal and corporate values were some far-off destination they were hoping, someday, to reach. They may say they have values in different categories, one of which

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“It’s All of Us”: The San Diego Synagogue Shooting & Accountability

When an anti-Semitic gunman opened fire recently in a San Diego synagogue, a member of the congregation, Lori Gilbert Kaye, chose in a split second to leap between the shooter and the rabbi. She lost her life…but the rabbi believes that by taking the action she did, she also saved his. This act was, I believe, a teaching moment for the world, a moment of profound accountability to the commitment that I call “It’s all of

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A Moment of Opportunity in Sri Lanka for Accountable Leadership

Last month, I wrote about how New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern stepped up and showed the entire world what accountable leadership looks like in the face of a crisis. This month, in the face of another crisis, I have a much sadder story to tell. As you may remember, Ardern not only vowed protection of Muslim refugees following the horrific mosque attacks in Christchurch, but she also made a point of visiting personally with

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Does Your Corporate Culture Inspire Accountability?

Recently, a family from New Zealand booked a home for a vacation in Ireland using Airbnb, the popular online peer-to-peer property rental service. When the family showed up at the property, however, they got an unpleasant surprise. They discovered that the owner of the house had set up a live video feed by means of a concealed camera. Believe it or not, that wasn’t the biggest problem that showed up in this story. The biggest

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Krispy Kreme’s Nazi Roots — and the Challenge of Accountability

It’s likely that, before this week, you hadn’t heard of the Reimann family if you lived outside of Germany. And it seems likely, too, that that’s exactly how the Reimann family wanted it. Which is, if true, a major failure of accountability. There is a total lack of accountable leadership in the Reimann family. You almost certainly have heard of the consumer brands owned by the Reimann family. They include Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Panera Bread,

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