Writer Anand Giridharadas criticizes corporate directors

Writer Anand Giridharadas criticizes corporate directors
  • Writer Anand Giridharadas They took the opportunity to talk to thousands of corporate board members and told them to get out of the group and make empty promises.
  • “A lot of your kids and grandchildren don’t respect your work,” Giridradas told the National Corporate Directors’ Annual Summit on Monday, according to an audio received by Business Insider.
  • Many directors were shocked and disgusted by these comments, and some of the participants said they demanded a refund for the event or threatened to withdraw from the NACD.
  • Giridradas also faced criticism from economist Glenn Hubbard, who called Giridradas’ thinking “crazy” as the two winner-take-all capitalism discussed at the summit.
  • “I was not interested in a theoretical conversation about capitalism … not to mention that we were now brought in as firefighters on the call of an economic firefighter,” Giridradas told Business Insider.
  • “Important to NACD’s mission, especially at our annual NACD Summit, is to express different views on issues that redefine how our 21,000 members value businesses,” said NACD CEO Peter R. Gleason said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When Anand Giridharadas was invited to speak at the Annual Summit of the National Association of Corporate Directors, the writer – Renowned for the harsh criticism of millionaires and the global elite – Did not retreat.

According to the audio received by Business Insider, “A lot of your kids and grandchildren don’t respect your work,” Giridradas told a summit of more than 3,000 directors on Monday.

Giridharadas slandered the lack of action of the directors, portrayed the businesses as making empty promises, while at the same time accepting responsibility.

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“Since this is a board of corporate directors, I ask again, where have you been?” Giritharadas said in his comments. “Where were you for the climate crisis? Where were you when inequality expanded over the last four decades? Where were you for the subprime crisis? Where were you until the opioid crisis? Where were you?”

The aggressive comments shocked many of the hundreds of people who attended the summit, which is said to be “the largest and most influential board of directors in the world”. NACD is made up of 21,000 directors, including board members 97% of Fortune 500 companies – Giritharadas calls.

The summit chat room erupted into chaos as Giridradas condemned the corporate directors. The conversation was moving so fast that it was difficult to keep up, says Board Director Lauren Harrell, who attended the summit for the second year in a row.

Giridharadas was the first speaker of the summit, marking the startling introduction of the event to many who did not expect him to be so harshly criticized at a business conference.

“I want to get my money back, I’m not going to sit here and listen to this,” Kent Lundberg, who attended the summit, told Business Insider.

Insulted participants in the chat room said they were going to postpone the summit or go dumb until Giridardas stopped speaking. According to Lundberg, some threatened to cancel their NACD members.

“Important to NACD’s mission, especially at our annual NACD Summit, is to express divergent views on issues that redefine how businesses value our 21,000 members,” NACD CEO Peter Gleason told Business Insider in a statement. Asked for feedback on the setback.

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Giridhardas revolts with economist Glenn Hubbard, calling Giridradas ‘crazy’

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Glenn Hubbard faced off against Giritardas.

Lucas Jackson / Reuters


Giritaradas’ comments followed a look Glenn Hubbard, This created a sharp cycle in a very conservative direction.

Hubbard is a professor at the Columbia Business School and an economist who advised the George W. Bush administration. In stark contrast to Giritardas’ ideas, Hubbard promoted the idea of ​​unfettered market capitalism.

The event was Fee As a discussion on “Winner — the pros and cons of all capitalism and what role companies should play in creating an equal society”. A brief question-and-answer session involving both Hubbard and Giridradas, led by Gillian Ted, chairman of the Financial Times’ editorial board, further heightened tensions.

Giridhardas had the opportunity to cut tax cuts during the Bush era, which helped the Hubbard engineer. In response, Hubbard criticized Giritardas’ thinking as “crazy.”

“I tried to keep Glenn Hubbard in the account he should have,” Giridradas said when asked about the contact with Business Insider. “He had a very theoretical discussion of these things: if the markets were working properly, he’d be blah blah blah. He was talking about Milton Friedman as a scholar surrounded by books, but he was living in a country.”

He added: “I am not interested in a theoretical conversation about capitalism and markets and democracy, not to mention that we are now being brought in as firefighters in the so-called economic firefighting expert.”

Giridradas said it was “unbelievable” for someone who teaches on college campus to use “crazy” as an insult in a discussion.

“All he has to offer is that I am ‘crazy’ and that my comments are ‘angry’ and ‘irrelevant’,” Giridradas said. “As someone who teaches on a college campus, he’s a little more sensitive to the mental-health issues in this culture, which is not the behavior we would expect from a teacher calling people crazy in a discussion.”

Hubbard declined to comment on the incident or called Giridradas an “economic firefighter”.

“Anand Giridardas and Glenn Hubbard put forward different perspectives on the future of capitalism, which provoked strong positive and negative engagement from more than 3,000 of our corporate directors and other management experts,” NCD’s Gleason said in a statement. “This underscores the difficult challenge when boards try to balance multiple and sometimes conflicting interests for their companies.”

Most directors did not expect the forum to start with such harsh criticism

Giritaradas’ comments came as a surprise to many following his dismissal of Hubbard.

“I think some of the audience stopped listening because they felt they had been attacked,” said Cynthia Ruiz, who attended the summit for the first time. “Because he was like that, what were you doing? Why didn’t you do this?”

After the first few minutes of the writer’s comments, Lundberg said that some at the anti-Giridardas meeting may have “left the rage” at the conference. But as the event continued, Lundberg says, another perspective appeared on the fast-moving chat.

These participants encouraged fellow directors to listen to Giridharadas, even if it was awkward. (Lundberg himself is a fan of Giritardas, and after watching the author’s videos, he knows what to expect from Firebrand – while others are surprised by the call-outs.)

Harrell, a participant who has spent the last decade in the governing and board rooms, is one of the directors leaning towards Assoc. He told Business Insider that he felt that the directors had raised important questions about whether the directors were living up to their responsibilities.

“Sometimes I appreciate that we’re not going to be comfortable, that’s right,” Harrell said. “Sometimes we have to think, why is that embarrassing to me?”

However, Harrell said the vast majority of people who chatted were either defensive or shocked rather than given the opportunity to hear a different perspective. These participants refused to engage in the frustrated horror.

“Those who were vehemently opposed to hearing this perspective – it made me think [how] These are the people in the boardroom, “said Harrell.” If you have perspectives that you do not want to admire or enjoy, will those conversations close at the table? What do you miss if you do not engage in that opposite perspective? “

Ruiz similarly accepted the opportunity to hear Giridradas’ comments, although most of the audience responded defensively. As a woman of color serving as chair of the Los Angeles Retirement Board, Ruiz said she attended the summit to have more exposure to the world of corporate boards. She saw it as an opportunity to learn the different perspectives of Giridradas and Hubbard.

“I’m also one of those people who appreciates diversity because it helps me build my ideas,” Ruiz said. “I sincerely believe we are making a paradigm shift to put people first, and I think it is driven by many factors, including consumers.”

Giridradas says corporate directors need to know that their children are angry with their accomplices

Paul Bolman

Paul Bolman, CEO of Unilever, was also invited by Giritaradas.

Reuters / Benoit Desire


Giridradas said he had not seen the chat with Business Insider and could not see how the audience would react as the summit was virtual.

“I think the message was necessarily hard, because they … tried to talk about partner capitalism against partner capitalism, and I think they were trying to hold that conversation in the absence of dialogue about being complicit,” Giridradas said.

Giridharadas said his comments that children and grandchildren do not respect their director’s parents were triggered by data from both generational divisions and his own personal relationships. He says he receives numerous emails from young readers of his book, “Winners Take It All: Elite Surrender to Change the World,” saying they share the book with their parents or grandparents from different perspectives.

“I have heard countless stories about how they used the book to persuade their family members that their family members contributed to the world a wasted opportunity for their own children and grandchildren,” Giridradas said.

“I think a lot of these dynamic young people are not crazy about the computer, but they are crazy – in some cases – what their own parents and grandparents did to make this system work,” he added.

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