That’s the question everyone is asking, from the upper echelons of Lehman Brothers to the 28,000 rank and file whose futures are in doubt since Wall Street’s fourth-largest investment bank filed for bankruptcy this morning. As I reported earlier today, Lehman folks are stunned that CEO Dick Fuld, who fought fiercely to keep the firm alive and independent, has not reached out to employees by e-mail, much less issued any sort of apology for the firm’s collapse.
Outside Lehman’s midtown Manhattan headquarters, which is right down the block from Fortune’s offices in the Time & Life Building, a colorful painted poster of Fuld is drawing big crowds. Gawkers — maybe Lehman employees among them — are paying the poster’s artist $1 to write a comment around Fuld’s severe-looking mug. The comments are unforgiving: “Crooks”…”Greed and power it was”…”I hope his villa is safe.” Vulture recruiters are on the scene too, passing out business cards. “If you’re interested in a financial services job…,” they’re announcing as people walk out the doors of Lehman with boxes in tow.
On 50th Street, I ran into Anne Erni, Lehman’s chief diversity officer. She’s stunned but trying to take things in stride. This past weekend, she said, her team and some of Lehman’s senior women were emailing constantly. “R U OK?” was the most frequently asked question. Starting Tuesday, she’ll be holding daily 10 a.m. conference calls with her Lehman team to help folks land on their feet. “Life goes on,” she says.