Dunn Steps Down as HP Board Chairman, but Remains a Director

In my estimation, HP has not done enough to quell the furor over the heavy-handed, unethical, and illegal methods that were used in its contracted and subcontracted investigation of leaks that emanated from its board through 2005 and into this year.

Patricia Dunn, the board chairman, has agreed to step down, to be replaced by HP CEO Mark Hurd as of January 1, 2007. On that same date, former HP executive Richard Hackborn will be elevated to "lead independent director," which seems to suggest he will take a prominent role in assisting Hurd in managing and running the board’s affairs. Anything better than the recent cloak-and-dagger antics and vaudeville routines would be well received.

I don’t see how HP can allow Dunn to remain a board member.

What has happened to business ethics, to executive accountability? HP is setting a dangerous precedent, for itself and for the industry, by refusing to mete out the punishment that Dunn deserves.

Let’s not mince words: She doesn’t deserve to serve on the HP board.

In another era, another place, she might have made a good KGB officer, but, after what has been commissioned and undertaken on her watch — pretexting as an investigative tactic against board members and nine journalists, plus an apparent misrepresentation of the reasons behind venture-capital Tom Perkins’ resignation from HP’s board — there is no way she can server as credible representative of the company’s interests, either as an employee or as a board member.

Do the right thing, HP. You’re getting there, but you’re not there yet.

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