Another senior executive has been ousted from Corporate America. This time it was HP’s Mark Hurd who resigned last Friday in the midst of allegations of sexual harassment. According to The New York Times, Jodie Fisher’s allegations against Hurd led to an HP internal investigation into the matter.
HP found no violation of their own harassment policy, but uncovered some violations of standards of conduct. Bloomberg reported that Hurd failed to identify a personal relationship with Fisher, and repeatedly filed inaccurate expense accounts.
Does that sound a bit too much like someone is covering their tracks?
Fisher (who is billed as an ex-reality TV star turned marketing consultant) and Hurd both claim that they did not have a sexual relationship. Since they have settled we may never know what really happened.
(On a side note, what is it with senior executives relying on ex-beauty queens and ex-reality TV stars for business advice?)
But here’s the real rub; According to Fortune, Hurd is leaving HP with 12 million dollars cash, and an estimated total of 53 million dollars in stock and options. (Pause for impact.)
Does anyone else detect a double standard here?
Fifty-three million dollars is enough to keep 662 people employed, at an average salary of eighty thousand dollars, for a full year. Fifty-three million dollars is enough to keep twenty-two people employed for thirty years. Fifty-three million would go a long way to relief in Haiti or cleaning up the Gulf, or (pick your favorite cause).
And I’m sure that fifty-three million is more than enough to provide a nice retirement for Hurd and his wife, complete with lavish summer homes, a yacht, and extravagant trips around the world.
Maybe we’ll see Hurd’s memoir on the bookshelves a year from now – attempting to define his legacy around how he replaced Carly Fiorina and restored HP to prominence as the number one hardware vendor (ousting IBM from that spot). He’ll likely pay a ghostwriter a meager sum to write the tale for him while he takes all the credit and rakes in even more cash to supplement his retirement. Worse yet, people will buy it because they’ll want to know the real story.
I’d be willing to bet that if you or I had misappropriated up to twenty thousand dollars in company funds, we wouldn’t be shown the door with twelve million in cash. We’d be out on our butts faster than we could blink. And there would likely be criminal charges.
What do you think? Is this another case of “do as I say, not as I do?” or did Hurd really think the rules just didn’t apply to him?