"You do not allow for the possibility that a CEO could run a company morally and disagree with your position."
Ted Rodgers wrote those words fifteen years ago. It is tiresome that we just have the same conversations and protests, just different people. Do our schools not teach history?
The Wall Street protesters or "We are the 99%" do display a lack of understanding about basic business and economics. They paint all corporations with a very broad and tainted brush. Their own insecurities and difficulties in life make them frustrated and lash out at the very institutions that give them a decent standard of living. Even the poorest American has more than 38% of the world. (The way Greece is going, that 38% could be rising).
History does repeat itself and the same political conversations keep raising their ugly heads - communism, Marxism, socialism, equal outcomes put above equal opportunities. It is 2011, and in Canada, we have the NDP saying they do not want profits, business is for the people.
When I read the response by Ted Rogers, while head of Cypress, to a group of investors upset that he was not supporting the ideology and political correctness of equal outcomes, I thought this letter should be redistributed to the protesters of businesses.
Finally, you ought to get down from your moral high horse. Your form letter signed with a stamped signature does not allow for the possibility that a CEO could run a company morally and disagree with your position. You have voted against me and the other directors of the company, which is your right as a shareholder. But here is a synopsis of what you voted against:
- Employee ownership. Every employee of Cypress is a shareholder and every employee of Cypress -- including the lowest-paid -- receives new Cypress stock options every year, a policy that sets us apart even from other Silicon Valley companies.
- Excellent pay. Our employees in San Jose averaged $78,741 in salary and benefits in 1995. (That figure excludes my salary and that of Cypress's vice presidents; it's what "the workers" really get.)
- A significant boost to our economy. In 1995, our company paid out $150 million to its employees. That money did a lot of good: it bought a lot of houses, cars, movie tickets, eyeglasses, and college educations.
- A flexible health-care program. A Cypress-paid health-care budget is granted to all employees to secure the health-care options they want, including medical, dental, and eye care, as well as different life insurance policies.
- Personal computers. Cypress pays for half of home computers (up to $1,200) for all employees.
- Employee education. We pay for our employees to go back to school, and we offer dozens of internal courses.
- Paid time off. In addition to vacation and holidays, each Cypress employee can schedule paid time off for personal reasons.
- Profit sharing. Cypress shares its profits with its employees. In 1995, profit sharing added up to $5,000 per employee, given in equal shares, regardless of rank or salary. That was a 22% bonus for an employee earning $22,932 per year, the taxable salary of our lowest-paid San Jose employee.
- Charitable Work. Cypress supports Silicon Valley. We support the Second Harvest Food Bank (food for the poor), the largest food bank in the United States. I was chairman of the 1993 food drive, and Cypress has won the food-giving title three years running. (Last year, we were credited with 354,131 pounds of food, or 454 pounds per employee, a record.) We also give to the Valley Medical Center, our Santa Clara-based public hospital, which accepts all patients without a "VISA check."