That's what I wonder after reading this Fast Company article.
"Never apologize and never explain," John Wayne growled in his 1949 epic She Wore a Yellow Ribbon . Like most everything Wayne growled, it sounded so good. So American. Do what you know is right, dammit, and don't back down. For generations, reprobates of all persuasions enthusiastically embraced that hairy-chested code.
At some point, though, we embraced the public confessional instead. This past summer, you couldn't flip on the news without suffering a parade of rogues beating their chests and begging forgiveness: Sylvio Berlusconi, Howell Raines, Trent Lott, Cardinal Bernard Law, the Dixie Chicks, Sammy Sosa. Sammy! Say it isn't so!
But in the corporate realm, the Duke is still living large. Business, needless to say, has had a lot to apologize for — but somehow, it just can't get its hands around the contrition thing. Sure, Sam Waksal gave an emotional mea culpa on his way to the slammer. But have we heard a peep of remorse from the folks at Enron or WorldCom? Has Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski conceded any of his considerable failings?
Few corporate wrongdoers from the last couple of years have apologized, which makes me wonder – do they think they did anything wrong?