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“The New Goldilocks” – Tyson Foods CFO John Tyson

Imagine walking into your bedroom, tired from a long day, only to find an unknown male, drunk and asleep in your bed. While I’m not sure if he tried sleeping in some of the other rooms or the couch first before ending up in the bed, but this Goldilocks was definitely somewhere he didn’t belong. 

Tyson Foods CFO – John Tyson, the son of Chairman John H. Tyson was arrested in Fayetteville, Arkansas over the weekend after entering a random woman’s home. He was intoxicated and simply “fell asleep” in the woman’s bed around 2am on Sunday morning. According to the officer’s report, John could not verbally respond, but continued to try to lay down and go back to sleep. The officer also stated he could smell an “odor of intoxicants” coming from his breath and that his body movement was “sluggish and uncoordinated.”

Unfortunately for him, the woman had no idea who he was or why he was there. Which led the police to arrest him on criminal trespassing charges and public intoxication. 

Nepotism In Corporate America

Of course, Tyson Foods had “No Comment” since it was a “personal matter”. 

This is nepotism at its finest. Tyson, who is only 32, was given the office of CFO in September of this year, as a promotion from being the company’s Chief Sustainability Officer. Despite his lack of experience, he was still appointed to the role. However, that is how the cookie crumbles in many family owned corporations – unqualified family members appointed to roles they are not mature enough to handle. But c’est la vie! 

John Tyson has apologized for his actions on a quarterly conference call, stating “I’m embarrassed, and I want to let you know that I take full responsibility for my actions. I just wanted you guys to hear this directly from me and to know that I’m committed to making sure this never happens again.” But I want to know, how is he committing to ensuring this never happens again? 

Tyson Foods grosses over $52B a year and of that, I’m sure John Tyson takes home a good chunk of that, by birthright. So excuse me if I don’t believe his promise to do better. Nepotism frequently leads to lapses in corporate governance and can put investors in unfavorable situations – as we see in this case.

#BrandRewind Lesson

I think the #BrandRewind lesson here is clear – Meritocracy in advancement, especially within family-owned businesses, is the best way to mitigate issues such as this. If he was the Chief of Sustainability this story, likely, would not have even made news. But CFO is an extremely visible position within a company, a role that should be given to a mature and worthy individual. Not that he couldn’t grow into the position, but clearly the timing is off on this one. Yes, meritocracy is an ideal goal, but I won’t hold my breath for corporate America to adopt it as the standard. 

Barika Phillips Bell is the co-founder of the award winning company,  B3 Media Solutions, a social media research, listening (search & social), analytics, data visualization, and reporting agency. She has over 15+ years experience within social media on both the brand and agency side.