Last week, David Bagley, HSBC’s chief compliance officer, resigned from his post while giving testimony at a US Senate hearing.
Even if it is well planned, is such a public forum the best way to announce a major resignation?
Even though large corporate failures are rarely the fault of one person, politicians and the media have become focused on ensuring that whenever something goes wrong, someone pays with their job.
So I admire David Bagley for taking responsibility for a failure in controls. By taking the initiative and offering his high-profile resignation before the public clamour for a senior-level departure became too loud, the business can shut down the story and save the rest of the company a lot of grief and reputational damage.
Yet while these public resignations clearly appease the bloodlust of the press, whether they help the business to address the underlying problem or serve the interests of its customers is far less clear.
Stephen Brooks is a specialist in people management and organisational change at PA Consulting Group.
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