business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB reader Julie Lyle wrote yesterday, following up on the passing of former Walmart CEO David Glass:

You are right.  David Glass was very low ego and a very compassionate man.  He was certainly "no-nonsense" and performance focused, but he was a gentleman and he had a wicked sense of humor.

I learned a ton from him in the years I worked at WMT, often directly reporting to him on key initiatives like our photo labs and the Walmart TV/Radio business.  He was opinionated - but he gave me the chance to turn that business around...even though he did NOT believe in the business model.  Without his willingness to to "give me enough rope"  that property would not be the successful profit center it is today...and it would not have paved the way for many of the "media platform" initiatives that WMT has explored and deployed off of that learning experience.

He was also a phenomenal impersonator and I know he will be greatly missed.

On another subject, got the following email from MNB reader Roy St.Clair:

A few years ago, the city of Portland (Maine) instituted a per bag charge in grocery stores for plastic and paper bags.

Hannaford gave away re-usable bags for a short time and I got into the habit of using them for each shopping trip. Now I almost never have to “buy” a bag when doing my grocery shopping.

If I forget or find myself making an unexpected shopping trip, I might have to buy a new re-usable bag. They only cost about a buck, and they get used for more than grocery shopping.

About six months ago, I got into the habit of bringing my own ‘Thermos’ beverage container to fill at the various places that I stop into on the way into the office or when traveling. Many of these coffee shops, convenience stores, and small markets even give you a little break for having a refillable mug…charging just the price of a small coffee, for example, no matter the size container.

The point is, little changes in habits can be easily incorporated into our daily routine.

Imagine the difference we could make if everyone used their own bags and brought their own cups. The plastic and Styrofoam saved from going into landfills or oceans would be considerable.

It may not reverse global climate change, but every little bit helps, don’t you think?


Yesterday we took note of a Wall Street Journal report that Best Buy CEO Corie Barry is being investigated by the board of directors following charges that she "had an inappropriate romantic relationship with a fellow executive, who has since left the electronics retailer." The charges were made via an anonymous letter saying that "Ms. Barry had a romantic relationship for years with former Best Buy Senior Vice President Karl Sanft before she took over as CEO last June … Mr. Sanft, former senior vice president of retail operations, had no comment for this article. He left Best Buy in early 2019 and is now the chief operating officer of 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Inc."

Barry also did not comment about the charges, except to say she was cooperating with the investigation.

I commented:

There clearly are a ton of cases out there of business executives and other people who have used their power positions to abuse and sexually harass people who work and/or report to them. And that's wrong. No excuses.

But I do find myself wondering if the lines always are being drawn in the right places. Aren't there situations in which two people in an organization can have a romantic relationship? It increasingly seems like the answer to that question is no, but so many people spend so much time at work … isn't the workplace one of the places where a person would be most likely to meet someone who shares interests, concerns and habits?

Maybe it just isn't possible anymore. But isn't there room for any nuance? (To be clear, I am not prejudging the Best Buy situation - there hasn't been enough information released to know one way or the other. I'm just musing.)

One MNB reader responded:

From one of your faithful readers, not self employed, which means I sit through each annual sexual harassment class, I can tell you that the problem with workplace romance is the perception that someone is missing out on choice projects, advancement, raises, etc. because they’re not having an intimate relationship with the boss.  Just sayin…
From another reader:

Per Bloomberg, in a 2019 study at the University of Texas and Emory University, CEOs who cheat on their spouses are twice as likely to cheat at work.

And I'm sure given the previous scandal in 2012 at Best Buy, Ms. Barry must have signed a legal agreement which she knowingly violated.

That's not who I'd want running my company.

I worked for a major company where there were long-term relationships between married senior managers and younger women employees.  These 'affairs' compromised business decisions and definitely affected who was hired and promoted.

Now, I responded to this email saying that I had not seen anything about either of the executives being married; it was then pointed to me that stories about Barry when she got the Best Buy CEO job noted that she was married with children.

To be clear, I am not defending anyone. I have no idea what her personal situation is, nor what agreements she may have signed as part of her contract.

By the way, I once had a job in which I was the immediate superior of a woman who was married to the CEO. So I have some familiarity with how awkward those situations can be.

I just am wondering - out loud, which is sort of what I do - if there is any room for nuance here, if every situation should not be judged as if they all are the same.
KC's View: