Sunday, June 15, 2008

Redemption Story?

This short notice in the Houston Business Journal caught my attention.
Waste Management Inc. as been named one of the world's most ethical companies in a list compiled by business magazine Ethisphere.

The findings were released this week in New York at a joint conference between Ethisphere and Forbes magazine, titled "Driving Profit thought Ethical Leadership."

The Houston-based waste and environmental services company was the only local business on the list.

Other Texas companies included were Dallas-based Texas Instruments Corp. and Fluor Corp., as well as Austin-based Freescale.
That's it. What struck me was what went unsaid--that Waste Management had been one of the least ethical companies ten years ago, when they were implicated in one of the largest accounting fraud schemes of all time. They are one of the four companies counted as being on the Center for Financial Research and Analysis "Hall of Shame" in Financial Shenanigans (a fairly technical but very entertaining book about accounting tricks done by publicly traded companies). This one of the big three accounting scandals that ruined Arthur Anderson's reputation (the others being Sunbeam and Enron, of course).

I hope that Waste Management's ethical turnaround is real, sincere, and permanent. And I would suggest to the Houston Business Journal that when they publish articles like this they they have a little sense of history. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but it makes for a more interesting story (possibly a story of redemption), instead of a bland recitation of virtue.

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