As the first decade of the 21st century draws to a close, it's time to pause for a moment and appreciate -- a few stumbling blocks aside -- the progress we've made towards a more inclusive, diverse business environment, right? That old boys' club may still be alive and well but it's on the wane, isn't it? Not if a fascinating exchange from an in-depth interview by legendary journalist Lesley Stahl with Andrew Ross Sorkin, NY Times business reporter and author of the new book Too Big to Fail, on the topic of last year's world rattling financial crisis, is to be believed.
LESLEY: What one really gets out of your book is what a closed little fraternity those guys at the top were.
ANDREW: It's remarkable. It's really 10, 20, 30 people who were involved in all of this. I mean -- 30 people running the world, and they are all mostly men, with very few exceptions.
LESLEY: And even though they had competed, it's almost as if they were on a football team together, or something. They're in close with each other. They can pick up the phone and call each other at home. They can get in a car and go to each other's houses. I had no idea.But the near collapse of the world banking system was the wake-up call we needed, you argue? Not so fast, asserts Stahl:
ANDREW: I have to tell you, I found the intimacy among them very surprising. The idea that they were going to each other's homes and calling each other every ten seconds, and that they all had past histories and relationships.
It's a year and a half after the fall of Lehman, and a year after the big bailouts. So I guess the inevitable question is, what's really changed? And one gets the impression that the answer is nothing. Am I right?
ANDREW: I'm afraid to say you are, Lesley.Am I naive to be surprised by this? Probably, but I do take comfort in the fact that someone as plugged-in as Sorkin was also surprised by what his reporting turned up. Does this description shock you? To read a transcript of the complete, fascinating interview, or to check out an audio version, visit wowowow.com.
(Image of gentlemen of leisure from Powerhouse Museum Collection)