HP ousts CEO - Hurd Fails The Headline Test

HP ousts CEO - Hurd Fails The Headline Test

Summary: Dramatic news from Sam Diaz to close the week with the announcement that HP CEO Mark Hurd resigns in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. This from HP's press release:Hurd’s decision was made following an investigation by outside legal counsel and the General Counsel’s Office, overseen by the Board, of the facts and circumstances surrounding a claim of sexual harassment against Hurd and HP by a former contractor to HP.

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Dramatic news from Sam Diaz to close the week with the announcement that HP CEO Mark Hurd resigns in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. This from HP's press release:

Hurd’s decision was made following an investigation by outside legal counsel and the General Counsel’s Office, overseen by the Board, of the facts and circumstances surrounding a claim of sexual harassment against Hurd and HP by a former contractor to HP. The investigation determined there was no violation of HP’s sexual harassment policy, but did find violations of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct.

The situation is a little curious given that he appears to have crossed the sexual harassment ethics hurdle but failed on the HP Standards of Business Conduct. On the subject of sexual harassment the HP Standards of Business Conduct document is fairly bare bones:

WE PROMOTE AND PROVIDE A HARASSMENT-FREE ENVIRONMENT

  • Do not behave in a disrespectful, hostile, violent, intimidating, threatening, or harassing manner
  • Encourage a harassment-free work environment
  • Refuse to accept or tolerate sexual harassment, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

No doubt we can expect to hear more on the circumstances surrounding Hurd's exit and the curious gap between various HP standards. Perhaps Hurd failed the so called 'headline test' where its best to exit if something just doesn't look good even if there is no technical breach of policy. In fact HP provides a handy visual reference in the same Standards of Business Conduct for those who prefer a more linear approach in making sense of ethical business dilemmas.

HP's 'Headline Test' for Ethics

HP's 'Headline Test' for Ethics

Update

CNET have published an internal email to employees from acting CEO Cathie Lesjak which sheds light on Hurd's breaches of ethical code (my emphasis added): 

The investigation was conducted by outside counsel in conjunction with HP's General Counsel's office and was overseen by the Board. Based on the investigation it was determined that the former contractor's claim of sexual harassment was not supported by the facts. The investigation did reveal, however, that Mark had engaged in other inappropriate conduct. Specifically, based on the facts that were gathered it was found that Mark had failed to disclose a close personal relationship he had with the contractor that constituted a conflict of interest, failed to maintain accurate expense reports, and misused company assets. Each of these constituted a violation of HP's Standards of Business Conduct, and together they demonstrated a profound lack of judgment that significantly undermined Mark's credibility and his ability to effectively lead HP.

Each of these conditions are clearly provisioned for in HP's Standards of Business Conduct as follows:

WE AVOID CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

  • Make decisions in the best interest of HP
  • Discuss with your manager any situation that could be perceived as a potential conflict of interest.
  • Proactively address situations that may put your interests or those of a family member in potential conflict with HP

WE MAINTAIN ACCURATE BUSINESS RECORDS

  • Create business records that accurately reflect the truth of the underlying transaction or event.
  • Sign only documents, including contracts, that you are authorized to sign and that you believe are accurate and truthful
  • Remember that email and other electronic communications may be business records; avoid exaggeration, derogatory language, and other expressions that could be taken out of context.
  • Retain, protect, and dispose of records according to policy.

WE USE ASSETS WISELY

  • Keep personal use of HP assets to a minimum
  • Do not allow other people, including friends and family, to use HP resources.
  • Do not use HP equipment or systems to violate the law or to create, store, or send content that others might find offensive.
  • Avoid any usage that might lead to loss or damage, including the introduction of viruses or a breach of our IT security
  • Uphold your responsibility to protect HP financial assets.

Regardless, the top seat won't remain cold for long and already speculation mounts about succession. Larry Dignan reviews all the top contenders here.

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, CXO, Emerging Tech, IT Employment

James Farrar

About James Farrar

James has more than 15 years of experience working on corporate sustainability issues from both the corporate and NGO campaigning perspective.

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4 comments
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  • Pride, no wait lust, cometh before the fall

    To think of all the crap these industry execs pull and get away with on a regular basis, and it's chasing office skirt that brings them down in the end. Gotta love corporate intrigue.

    For all their cosmopolitan smarts, haven't these jokers ever heard of how ill-advised it is to stick your pen in company ink? :x
    klumper
  • RE: HP ousts CEO - Hurd Fails 'The Headline Test'?

    That's a huge disappointment. Mark was an executive held in extremelyhigh regard . He has been a beacon.but ifanyonethinkshecanbreach fundamentals of integrity and value system, let this be an example and a good message that you arrogance leads to loss of judgement and leads to your fall. There can be no getting away. What he did at hp is amazing and any CEO'sdream. It's sad that he should go this way ... Very sad
    anrao
    • RE: HP ousts CEO - Hurd Fails 'The Headline Test'?

      @anrao yes, a very human story..
      jamesfarrar.1@...
  • It's not a matter of "just doesn?t look good"

    This is a case where the CEO did something [b]seriously wrong[/b], but just not the thing he was accused of.

    Clearly, for a couple of years he was [i]schtuping[/i] a woman whose firm was working for HP, and either in gratitude or obfuscation Hurd threw some extra cash her way. For some reason it turned sour and she played the sexual harassment card. She had to be faking it, or the thing would still be litigated, but, regardless, his actions were exposed. Since HP doesn't exactly have the squeakiest clean history in regards to its Board of Directors, Hurd had to go. If it was just a matter of a little [i]coitus in your org chart[/i] that could be [and usually is] overlooked (right, Dr. Schmidt?), but since some money changed hands a whole new can of worms was opened, like Hurd's fly. At that point he was toast. There's just no way HP can take another scandal in its boardroom.

    I bet Larry Ellison is laughing his ass of at these [i]schmuck[/i] Executives who can't even manage a good "bit of strange" without mucking it up.
    matthew_maurice