August 06, 2010
The HP Way
Posted by Gordon Smith

The last time we talked a lot about HP around here was 2006, when the company was battling the pretexting scandal. At the time, I did a series of posts examining the scandal, with particular focus on questions about Mark Hurd's ethics (see here, here, here, and here). Hurd survived  that scandal as HP CEO, despite the many questions about his role. Today he is in the news again with a fresh ethical lapse, and he won't survive as CEO. In fact, he is already gone

Hewlett-Packard Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Mark Hurd has resigned in the wake of a sexual-harassment investigation. 

The investigation began after an unidentified outside contractor revealed to H-P that she had had a close personal relationship with Mr. Hurd at a time she was providing marketing services to the company, said H-P general counsel Michael Holston in a conference call with reporters. 

The company said the probe revealed that Mr. Hurd had filed "numerous" inaccurate expense reports. The company didn't reveal the nature or amount of the inaccurate reports, but Mr. Holston said some payments made to the contractor were questionable. 

H-P said the probe found there was no violation of the computer giant's sexual-harassment policy, "but did find violations of H-P's standards of business conduct."

HP's shareholders have fared pretty well under Hurd, but ethics issues seem to matter more today than they did in 2006. Reading the news around the internet just now, I am struck by how many stories deal with cheating. Over at, we learn about the World Anti-Doping Agency stepping up enforcement efforts in professional cycling. (I thought the Tour was clean this year ... isn't that way Lance Armstrong performed so miserably?) The big story in the British papers today was about Naomi Campbell accepting blood diamonds from Charles Taylor. The NCAA is investigating Tennessee ... and West Virginia ... and North Carolina ... and Michigan.

Today I bid my students in London goodbye, and among other things, we talked about not cheating on the final examination. I find myself talking about honesty more and more with students as the years pass. I wish they had more role models.

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