Saturday, December 09, 2017

Harold Ford Jr. Clipped For Being An Overpriced Underperforming Token


CNBC |  Finally, it's important to remember that the actions that constituted serious misconduct several years ago are not the same as they are now. The resignations of Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Trent Franks on Thursday seem to be much more the result of something closer to a new zero-tolerance policy on harassment and lower-level assault.

That doesn't excuse Franken, Franks, Ford or anyone else recently ensnared in this wave of scandals. And there's a lot to be said for holding our elected leaders to a much higher standard on this issue. But it's also fair to say that Wall Street may have only purged itself from the most egregious examples of bad behavior toward women based on standards from the 1990s or even the early 2000s.

That's the assessment financial journalist Susan Antilla, author of the groundbreaking book, "Tales From the Boom-Boom Room: The Landmark Legal Battles that Exposed Wall Street's Shocking Culture of Sexual Harassment." Antilla has recently spoken out about how she believes Wall Street has made strides to battle harassment over the past two decades, but adds that bias still very much exists. 

In a world where sitting senators and congressmen can be forced out in a matter of days over unproven allegations, that means Wall Street is still very vulnerable. This is something everyone from the lawyers fighting for Goldman Sachs in federal court to the H.R. departments at every other big firm need to realize.

Getting back to Ford, it's important to note he isn't going quietly. "I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life," Ford said in a statement released Thursday. In an even more telling comment, a lawyer for Ford said that, "Morgan Stanley has still not told Harold directly of his termination, and unlike every other circumstance I've been in, the company has refused to provide me with a reason. This all demonstrates how this was a matter of convenience during a hyper-sensitive time and not based on real facts."

Those comments stand as very strong proof that rules are already starting to change on Wall Street. If the standards for Ford are extended industry wide, expect a dozen or so managing partners and higher-level executives to be ousted in the coming year. 

Once the dust settles from those firings and resignations, Wall Street will have to join Congress, Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Main Street in a major re-evaluation of its workplace rules. Anyone who thinks we're even halfway through this process is fooling themselves.