Hewlett-Packard C.E.O. Mark Hurd has resigned from his position after settling a sexual harassment claim from Jodie Fisher, a former actress and HP marketing consultant. Those familiar with HP have been surprised by this turn of events, as Hurd was admired for pursuing ethical business standards and settled the harassment accusations with Fisher privately.
Regret Doesn’t Lead To A Do-Over
Fisher has expressed regret to the media, claiming that she never meant for Hurd to lose his job. The company claims that his resignation was caused by expense irregularities. To investors, it makes no difference why Hurd resigned. The dependable C.E.O.—and the feeling of stability that he inspired—is gone and investor confidence is shaken. According to the Wall Street Journal, HP’s share price dropped 10% when news of Hurd’s departure made the rounds.
How Much Scandal Is Too Much?
Whether Hurd was justly or falsely accused, and whether his dismissal was more about money than scandal, the situation remains that the company has been unsettled and is already suffering repercussions. The story goes to show that even the largest, most stable companies can be rocked by a small-scale scandal—what’s a smaller business supposed to do?
In Business, Scandal Is Detrimental
Whether you work for a large cap corporation or out of your spare room, keep in mind that personal conduct can affect your business. Especially today, where any introduction is followed by a furtive Google search, our personal and professional identities are becoming indistinguishable from one another. As we’ve discussed in the past, a Tweet in poor taste can lose a job, and a strategic use of Linked In can find us a new one. No matter how tech-savvy you are, information about you and your work is out there—so you’re always on the job. Now that so much information about us and our workplace is available to the public, we’ll be taking Hewlett Packard’s edict as a rule of thumb: “Before I make a decision, I consider how it would look in a news story.”