Sustainability business guru Marc Gunther reckons Mark Hurd got off easy in being allowed to resign and secure a generous severance package. Referring to Hurd's dealings with actress Jodie Fisher:
In plain English, this means that he sent money to her that belongs to HP shareholders for work that she did not do. If true, this is clearly a firing offense. If it’s not fraud, then what is it? The HP board, it seems to me, should have fired Hurd for cause and taken away his severance, which is being valued at about $35 million......
But, in an email to the New York Times today, Oracle boss, Larry Ellison, puts forward a different take on what's best for HP shareholders:
The H.P. board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago....That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn’t come back and saved them. In losing Mark Hurd, the H.P. board failed to act in the best interest of H.P.’s employees, shareholders, customers and partners.
Indeed the shareholders today had their say - as Erica Ogg reported, HP shares closed down 7.4%.
Ellison sheds more light on the HP board deliberations last week and by his account they were initially split on the decision to go public about the sexual harassment investigation before finally reaching a unanimous decision to do so. However, HP are holding firm in their denial of this account:
As the company stated previously the Board, voted unanimously for Mr. Hurd’s resignation. And, that was the only vote the Board took on this issue.
According to New York Times sources, once the decision had been made to go public about the sexual harassment investigation, negotiations between Hurd and the board soured and both sides quickly agreed on resignation as the only way forward. The New York Times source also suggests that the issue of this disclosure was the main point of contention. So what about the all important ethical violations relating to conflict of interest, failure to maintain accurate expense reports & misuse of company assets where the board did find violations?
The truth is known only on to a few but this much is clear - the path to theoretical ethical decision runs true for us sustainability bloggers, Greek philosophers and corporate brochures. Real life tends to be messier.