I read with interest the recent reporting and views expressed in response to Former Telstra CEO, Sol Trujillo’s claim that Australia is a backward nation of racists. This follows very quickly with the news of his sacking of over 8,000 employees and his “pocketing” of $31m. In response we shout “how dare he?!”
But what is the real truth here?
Sol Trujillo is reporting his experience and was remunerated as per his contract. The Telstra Board set the recruitment brief, the selection criteria, the contract of remuneration and the metrics that the remuneration was tied to. Sol Trujillo did not “pocket” anything that was not determined by others.
In relation to racism, unfortunately I have personally read, heard and seen too much evidence in support of Sol Trujillo’s views. It is often subtle and not concrete, but it still persists. And certainly some of the journalist reporting and quoting of our politicians regarding Sol over the past four years has clearly played on his Mexican heritage.
If we are honest with ourselves, can we really say we have not seen in businesses across Australia, in your local associations, in general banter when socializing, no evidence of racism? And for that matter evidence of prejudice and ignorance about anything outside of the “vanilla” safe mould of the white, male, heterosexual businessman? Are we really happy to allow the countless justification in blogs and articles that you have to see these racial jibes as “real Aussie humour” to prove that you are really “one of us”? Or just dismiss Sol’s views as “sour grapes”.
Clearly not everyone is racist, sexist or prejudiced and I include myself in that category. But as a nation we have far to go before we can prove our fairness and embracement of equality.
Now I am a Telstra shareholder (fortunately it represents only a small percentage of our overall investments) and I see the need for education of the general public and the “mum & dad” investors that bought into Telstra when it floated under claims of great hopes, about Telstra’s corporate values, overall direction, competitive landscape and responsibilities to each stakeholder group.
If we are unhappy about Sol Trujillo’s remuneration, we should not be directing it to Sol, but rather questioning the Telstra Board. What is the board’s position on executive remuneration? What constitutes fair remuneration and performance earning hurdles? How is this balanced between the employees, customers and shareholder stakes in delivering on and rewarding their investment? We should also be requesting transparency of the current CEO and executive as to their plans for Telstra’s future.
The truth is often simple. The process of rationalizing the truth is where it gets complex.
So I ask in all the media beat-up, as individuals we should search for the truth. And to direct your energies to the right issues.