The WSJ this morning reports that,
"Inflated academic credentials in the nation's executive suites may be more common than generally thought."Barry Minkow, head of the Fraud Discovery Institute and former prison inmate, recently released the results of a survey in which his organization investigated the validity of the college credentials of 358 senior executives and directors at 53 publicly traded companies. Mr. Minkow says that he cross-checked the public biographies of officials against a database of college degrees. Mr. Minkow reports several instances in which an official's biography lists having received a university degree that didn't quite check out. In many of the cases listed, the person in question attended the university, but did not complete a degree.
This raises the question: To what extent do college credentials matter?
No one is going to argue that Bill Gates, Michael Dell or Larry Ellison should have stayed in school to complete their degrees. They were all extremely bright, tech savvy and ambitious enough to drop out of college and build strong global corporations, without a degree. The difference between these men and the executives being exposed by Minkow is simple - the former never tried to mask the fact that they do not have a degree.
This brings up an ethical dilemma: if these officials are dishonest about college credentials, what else are they hiding? This is an important consideration in the age of corporate scandals and cover-ups, as we need to have ethical and trustworthy leaders at the helm.
While a college degree probably has little influence on the talent and hard work that got executives to the top, the question remains whether these same individuals would have ever got their foot in the door without claiming to have the college credential. In the current state of the economy, the answer is most likely no, as employers use the college degree as a screening device in lieu of the ban on intelligence tests that were formerly used. This is the topic of CCAP's latest report, Griggs v. Duke Power, which is available on our website.