May 09, 2012, 12:17 PM — Thousands of Yahoo employees strolled into the company's headquarters today knowing that their boss -- a man who just ordered the layoffs of about 2,000 workers -- has a bogus academic credential on his resume.
Some of them will buy into the rationalizations that "everyone lies" about their professional achievements (not accurate), or that "all CEOs lie" (well, now we're at least getting closer to the truth), or that "it's not that big a deal, plus Dan Loeb is just a disgruntled shareholder who's pissed because he couldn't bully his way onto Yahoo's board of directors" (Loeb is the one who confronted the board with the fact that Thompson did not earn a computer science degree at Stonehill College, as the Yahoo website and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission claim).
But most Yahoo employees, I'm guessing, now resent Thompson -- and that resentment will fester and grow every day he continues as the company's chief executive.
And yet Thompson and the board allow this situation to continue. Thompson issued a vague "let's get this thing behind us" apology on Monday, Patti Hart -- the board member who spearheaded the CEO search that led to Thompson's hiring in January -- is resigning, and three other board members are going to "investigate" the hiring of Thompson. All of this activity is designed to tamp down and get past the furor.
The furor indeed may die down, but it's fair to assume that the cynicism and resentment spreading among Yahoo employees will only increase as Thompson continues as CEO.
Think about it from their perspective. Let's say Yahoo discovered that some talented developer included bogus information on his or her resume. Is there any doubt that other employees would expect that person to be fired? Even if they liked that developer, even if they were in awe of that developer's coding genius, they would know that a line had been crossed.
And that line is there for a reason. It's to ensure that people are who they say they are, that their accomplishments are accurately reflected in their resumes, CVs, bios and LinkedIn profiles. If you don't have that very basic guarantee, then every workplace is in danger of being infected by phonies, fabulists, narcissists and sociopaths.
More so than now, that is.
In his apology message to Yahoo employees, Thompson never refers directly to his bogus academic credentials, calling it "the issue," as if it were just some thing that exists independently of him.
It's not, no more so than it would be if we were talking about that hypothetical Yahoo developer. You own what's on your resume, and you can't blame the inclusion of false credentials on anyone but yourself.