An Open Letter to Ford Price, President, Price Edwards & Company

AN OPEN LETTER

Via Hand Delivery And The Internet

31 October 2012

Dear Mr. Price,

When we spoke on Friday, 26 October, 2012, a number of things began to crystallize for me in ways that they had not previously.

 

You spoke generally of loyalty. In the larger framework, a great deal of our corporate marketing is about how much Price Edwards and Company is like a family, and how we strive to build and improve employee loyalty at every turn. You insinuated that I had been disloyal habitually and publicly, on the basis of one private post to a social networking website. This post had come to your attention, apparently through one of my coworkers, who must have, at some point, befriended me on that social network. How that is evidence of loyalty, I am unsure. It smacks of personal betrayal to me, leaving me to understand that company loyalty trumps personal loyalty, and also that whatever story accompanies that betrayal must be the truth. Whereas I have never disclosed my employer online, or named anyone specifically in a complaint, someone I believed was my friend betrayed me in a very pointed and specific manner, and I don’t even know who that person was. It could have been any one of the many people in the office who either were my friends or were friends of my friends, on Facebook. This has resulted in, for me, an incredibly Hostile Work Environment. While there is not discrimination against a class of people in this case, the fact that I have been singled out of all the Corporate Office employees to lose all social media privileges (as well as other privileges about which I had never previously received any complaints or warnings) constitutes particularly vicious and specific discrimination. I am, as a result, filing an HR complaint.

To make my position abundantly clear, in the past two months, I have been offered two jobs without applying for either. I have turned them both down. I am both hurt and incensed by the insinuation that I would act in anything other than an aboveboard fashion when it comes to my tenure at, or departure from, this company. I did apply for one other job, as I told you during our chat, because the money, benefits, and pension are significantly higher, and those are considerations that I would be foolish to the point of stupidity to overlook.

 

Next, you called me a liar. Your words were, as I recall, “If I were you, I might sit there and lie to my face, too.” I would like you to consider the evidence of my entire tenure with this company. At no point have I ever been, even in a small thing, in any way dishonest or misleading to anyone. This assertion, coming from a person I had respected and believed to be a good judge of character, and a thoughtful and deliberate man, is especially repugnant.

 

Finally, you made reference to what you believe to be a generational difference between your generation and mine. You are correct when you say that we are more electronically linked and more likely to communicate even emotionally charged matters via our social networks than, indeed, any generation before us. Just as your generation turned to Walter Cronkite and Johnny Carson for news and entertainment rather than to your parents’ Jack Parr or a radio “Fireside Chat”, the march of technology is ever forward. Even in your tech eschewing state, I’d be willing to venture a guess that the number of personal text messages and emails you’ve sent in the last year outnumbers the personal letters or even informal notes you’ve sent, and probably by a wide margin.

 

The problem with writing off socially connectedness as a mode of life is threefold. First, multiple studies have proven that employees are more productive when they have access to social media without constraint throughout the workday. There is a growing body of evidence that having a social media policy of any kind is detrimental to morale and productivity. Second, and more importantly, if you intend to grow your business and continue to hire qualified, enthusiastic, and talented young people to help your company grow into the future, you will only do so with great difficulty as long as your unwritten and draconian social media policy remains unwritten and draconian. I have attached several articles and studies to this letter, that you may peruse them and see that the times are, indeed, changing. This second point leads in to the third and final point, which is that your current, and as far as I am aware, unpublished, social media policy vis-à-vis me, is illegal under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, for which I am also filing a complaint with the Tulsa office of the National Labor Relations Board. You see, action by an employer to stifle employee communication regarding hours, compensation, or working conditions, by an employer, in a union or nonunion shop, is illegal. Because one of my coworkers saw, agreed with, and “Liked” that post, it is now a class of protected speech known as “concerted activity.”

 

I want to make it abundantly clear that I have loved the vast majority of my time at Price Edwards. I have worked hard to provide the investment division with the materials they ask for, and whenever possible to anticipate and exceed their expectations. I have spoken, many times, in glowing terms of the generosity of “My Guys” – and I am going to miss them. I have never been anything other than professional and polite to everyone I come in contact with through Price Edwards and Company, be they brokers, vendors, clients, engineers, or otherwise, and I would encourage you to ask My Guys just what it is you’re losing. I have assisted (at least one if not more) people in every division this company when they have faced computer issues they were unable to handle on their own. I have been a true team player. In the past, I have broadcast to my wide social network every job opening that Accord passes along, telling my friends, my family, people I love and care about, that this is a good, solid company to work for, that they can make a career and a life here. When a dear college friend and former housemate who now lives in Wichita was in desperate need of a job, I forwarded her the amazingly auspiciously timed job opening there – and I was thankful that I had that small potential help to offer her. Believe me now when I say that there is no circumstance under which I would ever recommend anyone for whom I care to come to work in this den of vipers.

 

In the light of that, your later expression of desire that, should I take a job elsewhere, I would remain at PEC long enough to train my successor is laughable. Obviously, there is at least one employee here who believes she knows my job well enough to tell me how to do it, and also to carry tales upwards when she believes I’m not doing it her way. I suggest therefore, that she train my eventual replacement, because there is not an incentive package in the world large enough to convince me that this company has anything remotely like my best interests at heart.

 

Regarding that coworker, I can say only that if our roles (yours and mine) were reversed, and my name was on the letterhead, my reputation preceding my company everywhere it goes, I’d want to be a great deal more cautious about who I choose to represent me, and in turn, my name. Again, I have been extremely cautious not to speculate or name any names. Hypocrites, attention hounds, and liars cannot help but make themselves known, and being linked to one such as that leaves a stench that tends to linger.

 

For the foregoing reasons, I am officially resigning my position effective immediately.

 

 

Anne Smith-Saunders

 

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2 responses to “An Open Letter to Ford Price, President, Price Edwards & Company

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