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Mike's Minute: Why won't business leaders speak their minds?

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 11 May 2021, 11:35AM

Mike's Minute: Why won't business leaders speak their minds?

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 11 May 2021, 11:35AM

I cheered Rob Campbell the other day. Reportage had him, thank God, telling it like it is.

Campbell is a unionist from decades back who these days sits around board tables. We had him on the programme a few weeks back as a representative of a group of businesses that had written an open letter to the government asking for greater transparency around Covid.

Basically, they asked what the hell is going on? And what the hell is the plan?

What struck me at the time, and I should have asked, was that there weren't all that many signatures. I should've asked, why not?

But now we have the answer. Balls, or lack of them.

We found this out at a speech last week in which Campbell, in front of the Institute of Directors Leadership Conference revealed that various Chairs and Directors had refused to sign the letter.

Why? Because they were, "protecting their own arses." In doing that they were doing "a major disservice to the community."

There were people who were Directors and Chairs of companies who didn’t have the balls to sign the letter. They were worried about reaction, being penalised, and being scapegoated.

What a tragic indictment. Although I must say somewhat of a relief, given I have had many a conversation with people who tell me how grateful they are that this is one of the few outlets that holds the government to account.

When they say that, I think, "I haven't heard or seen your name or company about the place doing the same thing."

And many a time I have had people on the show, who broadly are critical, have questions, or want changes or improvements, and yet express it in the most vanilla of ways. In other words, they're wasting their time, so why bother?

The bigger picture for me, is what is it these people are doing if they're scared to say anything? What's the point in being meek?

If you're in business, especially at a high and influential level, why wouldn’t you want to be effective? Why wouldn’t you want to see your vision for your business and country enacted? When you see waster, poor decisions, or inept leadership, why wouldn't you be speaking out?

Why are you scared? What does that say about you? About your leadership? About your morals? About your gonads?

A poor government and a spineless group of business leaders who are hiding in their boardrooms.

Who aspires to be ordinary? The tragedy is being ordinary seems to be in vogue.

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