Are you currently, or have you ever been in the past, employed by a bank that screwed over millions of customers in an insanely brazen way? Or maybe a hedge fund where a large number of traders viewed insider trading laws merely as suggestions? Or hey, what about a company that ran a multi-decade, multi-billion dollar scam that destroyed everything in its path? Even if you had absolutely nothing to do with the scandals, even if the entirety of your interaction with those involved were the words "Who the f*ck are you", it's gonna cost you.
The Enrons and Worldcoms and Wells Fargos hurt the careers of innocent bystanders. It's a nasty and persistent reputational ripple effect that can be incredibly hard, and sometimes impossible, to counteract. Wells Fargo & Co., where bank employees tried to meet quotas and earn bonuses by opening sham accounts for customers without their knowledge, is the scandal of the hour. And it is executives in financial services firms that suffer the most from guilt by association, an article in the September Harvard Business Review suggests. Initial compensation at these executives' next job is about 10 percent lower than for that their untainted counterparts, the authors found. Across industries, job functions, levels of seniority, and regions, executives with such companies on their résumés took a cut of 4 percent in total compensation. Women were dinged 7 percent to men's 3 percent.
If you're currently reading this from Wells Faro and are interviewing for a new gig at 3 today, maybe consider changing the section listing your time at the bank to "several years spent finding myself."