CLBR SEGMENT 2 – When Politics Enters The Boardroom With Charles Elson

SEGMENT 2: CORPORATE GOVERNANCE EXPERT TALKS ABOUT THE OK CUPID-MOZILLLA WAR AND WHEN POLITICS ENTERS THE BOARDROOM

Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.

Thus began OK Cupid’ss assault on Mozilla and its CEO.  The letter continued:

Politics is normally not the business of a website, and we all know there’s a lot more wrong with the world than misguided CEOs. So you might wonder why we’re asserting ourselves today. This is why: we’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people—all people—together. If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.Thank you, If you want to keep using Firefox, the link at the bottom will take you through to the site. However, we urge you to consider different software for accessing OkCupid: Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari Thank you, OkCupid  

OK Cupid’s actions set in motion a media storm that ultimately led to Eich’s resignation from Mozilla.


  A similar furor developed last month over RadiumOne’s CEO Gurbaksh Chahal after he pled guilty to charges stemming from beating his girlfriend 117 times in thirty minutes – after Gurbaksh took to social media to deny culpability despite the fact that the beating was on video.


Charles Elson Edgar S. Woolard, Jr. Chair in Corporate Governance Professor of Finance Director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance

  • A leading authority on corporate governance issues, Elson’s fields of expertise include executive compensation, corporate compliance, securities regulation, corporate legal matters and Delaware issues.
  • Has written extensively on the subject of boards of directors and is a frequent contributor to various scholarly and popular publications.
  • Vice Chairman of the ABA Business Law Section’s Committee on Corporate Governance.
  • Advised and consulted organizations spanning a variety of sectors: retail (AutoZone, Inc.), manufacturing (Sunbeam Corporation and Circon Corporation), human resources (Towers Perrin), oil and natural gas (Nuevo Energy Company) and non-profit (Investor Responsibility Research Center). Elson is currently a member of the Board of Directors of HealthSouth Corporation, a healthcare services provider.
  • “Of Counsel” to the law firm of Holland & Knight.

OK, Cupid, Where’s the Line? Mozilla CEO’s Exit Over Gay Rights Shows Split in Valley

While a board may need to be involved if an executive’s views cause strife among the management team or impacts its ability to recruit employees, “it should err on the side of keeping politics and business separate and distinct,” said Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. “This is troubling because one’s politics is one’s own business,” Elson said. “That’s been the rule in American business for a very long time.”


Delaware Status As Capitol of Corporate America

From Wikipedia:

More than 50% of all U.S. publicly traded companies and 63% of the Fortune 500 are incorporated in Delaware.  The state’s attractiveness as a corporate haven is largely because of its business-friendly corporation lawFranchise taxes on Delaware corporations supply about one-fifth of its state revenue.

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