Voici un article publié par Gael O’Brien dans Business Ethics sur la saga de la gouvernance à American Apparel. Le fondateur Charney est en guerre contre son conseil d’administration pour une foule de raisons, valables à mon point de vue.
La situation est d’autant plus saugrenue que le président Charney est responsable de la nomination des membres du C.A. !
Je vous invite à une lecture pimentée d’une situation surréelle dont vous trouverez un extrait ci-dessous.
The American Apparel story gets crazier by the moment.
Actions taken by the company’s board two weeks ago to attempt to remove founder Dov Charney as chairman and CEO have prompted him to launch a counteroffensive to regain control of American Apparel. Working with hedge fund investors, Charney has borrowed money to increase his shares in the company to 43 percent and is threatening a proxy fight. But the hedge fund investors working with Charney are now negotiating with the very board that fired him – and there’s a possibility that a new management team could be appointed that does not include Charney.
Whether Charney is successful or not, the result of his past leadership is an American Apparel characterized by two faces in opposition to each other. When that happens, the worst face eventually outweighs the best. The retail company’s attempts at socially responsible practices — clothes touted as ethically made in the United States – have ended up being plowed under by the repugnant behavior of its leader, who sexualized the workplace as a stalking ground for employee relationships called consensual, disregarding disparity of age and power.
American Apparel’s drama illustrates two key problems: In companies where there is a dominant founder running the company according to the beat of his (or her) own drum, how hands-on can a hand-picked board be when it is necessary to reign in the founder? And, when ethical issues surface in a company with a sexually provocative brand image, how does a hand-picked board ensure a clear stand is taken?
Charney’s hand-picked board supported him for years through several very public sexual harassment lawsuits — not appearing to reign in his philosophy that a sexually-charged workplace fosters creativity; it authorized a quiet, internal investigation this year which uncovered examples where they said Charney misused company funds and didn’t prevent the posting of naked photos of a former employee who had sued him for sexual harassment a few years before.
Gael O’Brien, a Business Ethics Magazine columnist, is a consultant, executive coach, and presenter focused on building leadership, trust, and reputation. She publishes the The Week in Ethics and is The Ethics Coach columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine.