By Sarah Liverance
First, there was the Enron scandal in 2001. Whether you were an Enron shareholder, creditor or employee, you got screwed. Some CEO’s and COO’s went to jail (or would have if they hadn’t died waiting for the justice system to painstakingly put the final touches on their sentencing) but they never stood up and took responsibility for what happened. It was always someone else’s fault.
Then it happened again. During the 2008 financial crisis and all the miserable months following, there was plenty of blame to go around but there was no one catching that hot potato, no one willing to stand up and be accountable for the harm done, the lives impacted.
And it’s happened countless times in between and since these two highly public examples: CEO’s making bad decisions, even criminal decisions in some cases, and never once accepting responsibility.
So it was refreshing, actually celebratory for me, when Peter Munk publicly accepted full responsibility for the financial troubles that Barrick Gold (world’s largest gold producer) has been experiencing. He’s taking the blame and stepping down now that he’s found his successor. In an interview with Amanda Lang during Friday’s airing of The Lang & O’Leary Exchange (full interview can be found here; his specific blame-taking comes at about 10 mins into the interview), he said, “Don’t blame my Board; blame Peter Munk”. And then he went on to say that was just the way his mother raised him. I wasn’t sure whether to break into song, salute, or drop my pre-dinner nacho chip. A sad time for those affiliated with the gold market and specifically Barrick, but this was a moment to celebrate – a CEO honouring his mother’s lessons. Hallelujah!