HP Board Scandal: Ethics and 'Colossal' Stupidity Don't Mix


"Ethics" are often an afterthought in corporate culture, but they are grabbing headlines this morning in a soap-opera yarn that includes someone actually storming out of a board room.


HP chairwoman Patricia Dunn may face criminal prosecution in connection with the sneaky tactics employed by private investigators she hired to uncover a media leak on the HP board.


Dunn may evade prosecution if she can prove she didn't know her private eyes were doing anything dicey, like impersonating board members to gain access to phone records. She might also end up ousted as the HP chair.


(Lost in all the coverage seems to be the fact that the board member in question, George Keyworth II, was leaking company secrets to the press, which strikes us as somewhat unethical.)


In the wake of Enron, ethics have constantly been in the business press, albeit typically for financial dealings. And a recent Business Ethics magazine ranking looked favorably on tech companies.


The story of Dunn just illustrates that any exec, even one commonly described as one of the most powerful women in corporate America, must think twice before doing something ethically questionable.


Or, as California's attorney general put it, "colossally stupid."

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