Integrity and HP Way get Dunn to death

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By  Colin Edwards Published  October 31, 2006

We conduct our business with uncompromising integrity - that's the HP Way, or at least it was until the HP board decided it needed to flush out a boardroom press mole. HP chairwoman Patricia Dunn did the honourable thing and has fallen on the sword and resigned. And so she should. The whole furore happened on her watch.

But many will question what all the fuss is about. Why should a company and its head be committing public hara-kiri and flagellation? The whole dirty-tricks boardroom investigation could be justified by the fact that the mole was causing untold damage to the public company’s stakeholders - the people who, under the HP Way, matter most.

However, it is when something like this happens and is received with a deafening hush by everyone that we should be querying our business and ethical values today.

Without getting too political, it is shame many global political leaders and policy makers do not do the same when something happens on their watch.

No one knows yet precisely what happened with the HP investigation, but what we do know pales into insignificance compared with all the financial scandals that have plagued the IT world over the past couple of years. HP representatives stepped over the accepted practices line when it came to personal privacy.

They did it, got caught and addressed it. There was no question of it being justifiable in today's new age.

Compare that to many of the other scandals that have hit the IT vendor community. It is still supremely ironic - not to mention sad - that some of the very companies that are selling security, compliancy and governance products, solutions and frameworks today are the very ones not complying.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal published a list of more than 105 companies that have come under scrutiny for past stock-option grants. The list was of companies that have disclosed government probes, misdated options, restatements and/or executive departures. Most of them were IT and high-tech companies.

It is obvious that business ethics, standards and beliefs have changed radically over the last few years - and certainly over the decades since Hewlett and Packard first devised a management philosophy based on integrity, respect for individuals, teamwork, innovation, and responsibility to the community.

HP has not escaped this change, but at least it does differ from the norm in that it still has a bit of ‘uncompromising integrity’ left. Now, dare we hope for the same in politics?

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