Thursday, September 14, 2006

CNET, Privacy and Patricia

Charlie Cooper at CNET wrote today on Patricia Dunn’s lack of contrition in "Pretexting-Gate." Somehow, I’m always doubly disappointed when a female executive fails her employees and shareholders. That’s sexist, I know, but there are just too few women in high places that we can afford casualties.

Dunn may claim that she was not aware of the P.I. firm’s specific tactics, but that’s not really the point. This is about accountability. It’s about a sense of honor. There was really no appropriate response other than to acknowledge her responsibility, to offer a heartfelt apology, to step down immediately and to exit the board. (Dunn is slated to remain as a director at H-P.)

For such a long time, the H-P brand stood for integrity and a humane, ethical approach to business. Dunn's decision has done incalculable damage to H-P’s reputation. CEO Mark Hurd has the perfect opportunity to take a proactive stand on the issue of privacy, and to demonstrate to employees, shareholders and the business community at large that H-P has learned something from this bitter lesson.

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