Last week, John Stumpf, the CEO of Wells Fargo, stepped down following the discovery that he created 2 million fake accounts under existing customers without their consent. About 5,300 workers were laid off and these employees blamed this scandal on their ridiculously stringent sales target. Disappointingly, this kind of practice is not foreign in the banking world. Be it within our knowledge or not, we live in a society that sorely lacks the moral compass, integrity and sense of accountability that should be the foundation of our everyday actions. In cases where this kind of unethical conduct happens, lower level workers are often the ones who are hit the hardest. For starters, their incomes are already nothing compared to that of higher level executives. These executives then shift the blame on them, instead of on a system that leaves them with no alternate choice. These three CEOs have endured a tough year and their lower level workers should not bear the brunt of their decisions. Also, if this was written in 2015, Pharma “bad boy” Martin Shkreli would have topped the list.
Earlier this year, Mylan, the company that produces EpiPen, an auto-injector containing epinephrine, hiked up the price of a pair of EpiPens to about $600. The cost of the drug itself is not expensive because it’s a generic drug. However, the injector is apparently very costly. It’s designed to automatically calibrate the right amount of dosage for each injection. Sure, patients could administer the drug themselves, but this poses the risk of injecting it in the wrong place, and this can be fatal to the patients. There are, of course, various reasons for this hike — insurance plans being one of them. To gain a huge amount of profit at the expense of other people’s lives, however, is immoral. Mylan is trying to get this technology registered as a preventive drug, which means that patients do not have to worry about paying anymore because the cost will be covered by the government and their employers. This goes to show that Mylan is not even interested in reducing the price of their EpiPens, and they have tried very hard to hide their intentions.
I’m not going to completely dismiss the credit Marissa Mayer deserves for coming on as CEO to save a company that has been struggling to remain relevant in the era of Facebook and Google. Under her leadership, Yahoo has seen an increase in the number of monthly users and revenue last year.
However, a few major events that happened in the last few months are starting to erode the reputation that she has built. Recently, it was revealed that 500 million Yahoo accounts were compromised in 2014. To make things worse, Yahoo was also reported to have complied with a U.S. intelligence officials’ request to scan incoming emails of their users. In a time when companies like Apple are willing to defy the FBI in order to protect their customers’ privacy, Yahoo’s failure to live up to this standard will only inflict more harm to the company.
3. Deutsche Bank
If the 7,000 legal cases that this bank faces are still not sufficient to signal its CEO where the exit sign is, perhaps a few major ones would. Deutsche Bank has recently agreed to pay $38 million over the allegation that they have conspired with two other banks to fix silver prices since 1999. In addition to this legal battle, this bank also risk paying a $14 billion fine by the U.S. Department of Justice over selling bonds in the years leading up to the financial crisis. We know for a fact that millions of jobs were lost in 2008 and we are still recovering from the remnants of its consequences. However, those who propelled us into the financial turmoil walked away almost unscathed.