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Mark Hurd, CEO of Hewlett Packard Company, has to his credit one of the most successful corporate turnarounds in business history. Or, should I say, Mr. Hurd had that accolade to his credit. Over the weekend, Hurd was forced to resign as CEO of the increasingly successful technology company after he was slapped with a sexual harassment suit by former reality T.V. star Jodie Fisher.
Hurd and Fischer’s relationship began as a professional one, when he hired her as a marketing consultant. Hurd claimed to be holding C.E.O. executive summit meetings, events at which H.P.’s best customers were wined and dined, while Fisher kept Hurd company.
Somewhere along the way, the relationship went beyond the professional into the personal. One can only imagine what caused the tryst between Hurd and the former “Age of Love” star to go South, but last week Fisher accused Hurd, a married man, of sexual harassment.
In a statement made over the weekend, H.P.’s executives claimed that Hurd falsified expense reports and betrayed the board of the company’s trust by concealing his relationship with Fisher. Ultimately, the company cited Hurd’s fiscal wrongdoing as the reason for their call for his resignation, however it seems likely that Hurd’s infidelity was also a contributing factor.
What will be interesting in the wake of this scandal is how the company will fare after the end of the Hurd-era. In his five-year reign, Hurd helped escalate profits while cutting costs, resulting in a huge boom in H.P. stock prices. Since the market closed on Friday, the company’s stock has already begun to plummet, serving as an unfortunate reminder that the behavior of corporate officials has a far-reaching and potentially damning impact on the lives of others.
- Lauren Sibyl Bair
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