On morality and corporate boards.

Recently, a group of nuns (The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia) wrote a letter to the CEO of Cypress (formerly Cypress Semiconductor, I believe) concerning the fact that the Board of Directors was not balanced racially and didn’t have enough women.  His response was an epic defense of the company and why profits for such companies ARE moral.

Here are the most telling excerpts (all emphasis mine):

A search based on these criteria usually yields a male who is 50-plus years old, has a Masters degree in an engineering science, and has moved up the managerial ladder to the top spot in one or more corporations. Unfortunately, there are currently few minorities and almost no women who chose to be engineering graduate students 30 years ago. (That picture will be dramatically different in 10 years, due to the greater diversification of graduate students in the ’80s.) Bluntly stated, a “woman’s view” on how to run our semiconductor company does not help us, unless that woman has an advanced technical degree and experience as a CEO. I do realize there are other industries in which the last statement does not hold true. We would quickly embrace the opportunity to include any woman or minority person who could help us as a director, because we pursue talent — and we don’t care in what package that talent comes.

We pursue talent… what a novel concept in our day and age.

He then goes on to point out the morality of trying to make a profit, because of the stewardship of other people’s money.

Choosing a Board of Directors based on race and gender is a lousy way to run a company. Cypress will never do it. Furthermore, we will never be pressured into it, because bowing to well-meaning, special-interest groups is an immoral way to run a company, given all the people it would hurt. We simply cannot allow arbitrary rules to be forced on us by organizations that lack business expertise. I would rather be labeled as a person who is unkind to religious groups than as a coward who harms his employees and investors by mindlessly following high-sounding, but false, standards of right and wrong.

I fully endorse the ideas put forth in this open letter.  Read the whole thing:  http://www.cypress.com/?rID=34986