Friday, May 4, 2012

How a CEO's padded resume impacts its corporate culture

Late last night, it became public that Yahoo's CEO Scott Thompson padded his resume by claiming to have a Bachelor's degree in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College. Stonehill, a small Roman Catholic college in Massachusetts, also confirmed to CNNMoney that Thompson's only degree is in accounting. (SOURCE: CNNMONEY.COM)

The lie has been on Thompson's bio on Yahoo's site and on past employer's sites including Pay Pal and Ebay. It is a lie Thompson kept up for years, but let's assume none of the employers deliberately perpetuated his lie. 

Now that Yahoo knows about the lie, it's first response was something along the lines of, "Well, he's a great worker, so his degree doesn't matter. If he turns the company around, his degree won't matter."

First of all, it is highly doubtful they would have a similar response when finding out a project manager's resume included a lie of that nature.

Secondly, Yahoo is supposed to be an expert in searches, Considering they missed this big lie on their own CEO's resume, just how good are they at searches anyway? The company's failure to uncover the truth about their own CEO leads to a reasonable assumption that they are not good at what they do. 

Third, Yahoo has had internal issues and performance issues for a long time and this error, along with the response, is no surprise to anyone who follows the company. The company is hanging on by a thread and desperate times call for desperate measures (like not confirming easily whether a new executive is a liar).

Fourth, Yahoo missing the facts about Thompson's degree and the fact that he does not have a Computer Science education are less relevant today than the fact that he lied for years about it. Of course he's learned enough about computer science over the years to make up for the lack of degree in that area. And, perhaps it is reasonable for a major corporation not to verify degrees (although none I know of let that slide these days). What is intolerable is the lie and the perpetuation of the lie. If Yahoo overlooks the long-term lie, it sends the message that it's a company not to trust.

When a company makes an error like this and responds so cavalierly, its customers, investors, and employees notice. So far, the leaders are saying the lie is okay, and the message is being heard loud and clear by all of its stakeholders. The culture of distrust will make it even harder for Thompson to turn Yahoo around now.

(Article source:  Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson caught padding his resume)

What do you think? Does the lie matter?

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