A Thought Exercise: How Would You Answer This Question?

While preparing for a recent media training, I came across a video clip from 2009 that I had never seen before.

The clip features Bob Diamond, who was the CEO of the British multinational bank Barclays at the time. During the interview, the reporter asked Diamond to defend his high compensation package—he was reportedly earning north of £20 million/year (roughly $30 million/year), with some reports putting his total compensation package at more than three times that amount.

As a reminder, this interview occurred shortly after the financial crash of 2008, when bankers, who were perceived to have contributed mightily to the crash, were under increased scrutiny. 

Diamond started off strongly enough by making his case for free-market and performance-based compensation. But when the interviewer asked him whether he was worth as much as 1,000 Barclays tellers, he crumbled and took on the look of a boy who had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Imagine, for a moment, that you were preparing Mr. Diamond for this interview. How would you have advised him to answer that question?

Bob Diamond Barclays

There’s only one “rule” for this thought exercise: You can’t advise Diamond to cut his salary or give a portion of it to the tellers, because there’s no indication from his response that he’d be willing to do either. Your advice should be based on the assumption that he’s going to continue receiving the same high compensation package.

What should he say? Please leave your suggestions in the comments section below. I’ll compile a few of your responses for a follow-up post later this month.