Topic: Business & Commercial Society

William C. Steere
(March 2004)

Michelle Leder reports, on her excellent website devoted to the fine print in corporate SEC filings, that William C. Steere, Pfizer's former Chairman and CEO (and current board member), who stepped down in 2001, collected just $50,000 in consulting fees from the company in 2003, the equivalent of an honorarium by current standards. Not only that: he voluntarily reimbursed Pfizer for all the personal services it provided as part of his retirement, presumably, as Ms. Leder speculates, the usual gewgaws like a car, use of the corporate plane, office space, a secretary, and perhaps more creative items.

In these strange days when Gannett is giving Larry F. Miller (not even the company's former CEO but its former Chief Financial Officer) a yearly and automatically renewing $600,000 consulting contract along with the car, county club dues, and other goodies, Steere's actions appear to be a culture-bucking rejection of greed… or to be a bit less judgmental, an attempt to provide a responsible alternative to the standard practice of wringing a king's ransom in corporate funds out of your pals on the board of directors. It would be nice if he could set a trend, and thus Ethics Scoreboard confers on him the status of Ethics Hero, for his dignity, decency, self-restraint, fairness, and courage.

Leder's website, by the way, is www.footnoted.org.

 

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