A woman who has been the most powerful female banker in the country emerged from the belly of the beast Sept. 15 to warn that American business needed to change its corporate culture to stay successful in the future.
Predicting a disaster unless workers were given respect, Rosemary Greco spoke to an audience of about 80 at the Harold Prince Theater, kicking off the 1998-99 program of the Association of Women Faculty and Administrators on campus.
Greco, former Chief Operating Officer of CoreStates Bank, is co-chair of the board of the Philadelphia Private Industry Council, which implements welfare-to-work programs for the city.
Greco spoke about the changes in our culture created by the technological world we live in, a transformation not necessarily for the better.
She cited our longing for the "kinder, simpler" 1950s, when "television offered only three channels, fast food was pot roast and mashed potatoes, and communication was by hand-written notes."
Even with the problems of polio, Communism and racial divisiveness, the '50s were a time of optimism and typical, nuclear families, when the bumper crop of baby boomers could expect a better life than their parents, she said.
That sense of optimism and youthfulness has been lost -- along with the nuclear family. "There's nothing typical about America today," she said. "America speaks with an accent. ... and AARP gets a new member every eight seconds."
The business values of efficiency, productivity and the bottom line have become part of how we measure our private lives as well. And the values have been brought into how universities run. "The business of business has been brought to academia in a Federal Express package," she said.
Greco suggested that future business success would require a shift of values from the bottom line, performance and greed. Successful businesses will have to recognize that "intellectual capital resides in human beings," she said, and that "human beings are not going to be replaced but are going to be more highly valued."
Originally published on October 1, 1998