On Offensive, Disrespectful Remarks

Recently the head of a $100 Billion investment firm made headlines for his vulgar and demeaning comments about women. These comments were made from the dais at a prestigious industry conference.

These comments were shocking even in a world that seems less and less shockable. It’s hard to imagine that there are professional environments where employees are NOT judged on their character, skill, experience, and work ethic.

In my 2013 book, Restoring Our American Dream, I focus on the importance of trust and integrity, not just in one’s profession but life in general. One chapter is about the importance of personal conduct and morality. I hold that these are American Values. What we do and say when we think no one is looking, (or as in a recent case, believe that derogatory and sexist remarks about clients and employees will only be heard by a small group of business insiders) defines one’s character.

At Farr, Miller & Washington, we do not differentiate between our male and female financial professionals, we simply think of ourselves as financial professionals. Professionals at Farr Miller are distinguished by experience, expertise, and their dedication to our clients. Our culture does not have female or male criteria, or any other distinctions based on age, race, sexual orientation or religious beliefs. Farr, Miller & Washington fiercely supports diversity and inclusion at all levels in our industry.

Core values of professional respect, collegiality, inclusion, and service define our firm and our approach to our clients. It feels odd to pen a note that covers topics that should be obvious.

I wonder how to encourage higher mindedness and civility. Serve as an example is a good step. I remember the words of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan both encouraging a higher calling for America and high ideals. Kennedy said, “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest form of appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Reagan’s farewell address encouraged us to do, “a better job of getting across that America is freedom-freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs protection.” Experience tells us that pendulums swing and will move back from extremes. Polite respect, civility, kindness, fairness and collegiality allow us to call ourselves civilized. They are crucial to the American soul and America’s economy.