Enron Employees Lose Retirement… and Their Clothes?

Playboy magazine is now doing a ‘Women of Enron’ pictorial spread. … Apparently the only thing these women have left to shred is their dignity.” —Jay Leno

When searching for answers to what Enron employees did after its demise, I was immediately drawn to this clip from The Daily Show. If you don’t believe them here is a link to Fortune500’s “Top Companies for 2002” where Enron is really listed as #5.  And yes, seven of the employees did pose for Playboy… there is even a documentary DVD about it.  Playgirl even decided to do a spread of Enron’s employees, just to be fair.  But what about the rest of the employees, you know the ones who didn’t know of Enron’s evils and didn’t want to show all?

Towards the end, Enron had over 20,000 employees, and lets face it, most of them got screwed.  Enron told its employees that their retirement plans should be in the company’s stock, and since certain Enron executives had done a really good job at making the stock value high employees saw no reason to not do so.  According to CBS $2.1 billion in in employee pensions was lost, and many will never see any money recovered.  All that they can do now is get satisfaction in the fact the Enron Execs were found guilty and file civil lawsuits, that may take ages to settle.

The fact of the matter is Enron employees did not only lose their retirement, they also lost their jobs. How does one get back into the workforce after having Enron listed as your work experience?  Accountant Lisa Meier was quoted as repeatedly being asked by possible employers, “So were you corrupt or were you stupid?” Some of Enron’s employees were able to capitalize on their experience with the organization by advising other companies about new laws that were put into place or speaking about ethics.  Others worked their way up in other corporations, and some even started their own companies, with a new “I’ll do it myself” attitude.  In the end all the employees can try to do is move on, learn from the experience, and possibly pose for Playboy.

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5 Responses

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  2. I think you make a good point taking about how Enron employees continue to be affected by the collapse of the company. The stigma that must cling to former Enron employees, whether or not they had any involvement in the scandal, has to make it difficult for these individuals to find employment and move on with their lives. This just seems to further illustrate that the lucky few who benefited from the experience at Enron, like Lou Pai, did so at enormous expense to those around them; not only the public but other Enron employees as well.

  3. Looking at how the regular employee is affected by the practices of the company. This is a great example of the importance of the stakeholder mindset. Where many people only see the investors as the victims of this scandal, what about the innocent employees who weren’t anywhere near the people involved or in the divisions that responsible for Enron’s fall? These people now have a tarnished employment record by no fault of their own. These employees trusted and believed in the company they worked for. They invested, they lived their lives thinking that their lives and jobs were secure, only to be betrayed by their fellow employees. So not only do they have a hard time finding a job, but now they may have a difficult time trusting their employer ever again. Executives and upper management should see this and realize the lasting social and mental effects that their decisions have on stakeholders.

  4. Well I agree that many people, in this case the employees, got the short end of the stick so to speak, it was just comes down to bad luck. You can throw around “should”s and “could”s all you want, but at the end of the day there are going to be winners and losers, that’s how a capitalist market works. This is just one case where it’s really easy to sympathize with the losers. If you think this should not be the case then I would suggest looking at alternatives to capitalism.

  5. I think that trust is key here. That is why quite a few former employees decided to start their own businesses and work for themselves. Also, this has taught me the importance of researching an organization before taking a job there. Do you think that it is fair to blame the employees that were not related to the scandal for not picking up on things?

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