Cowardice at Work

Cowardice at Work

If you want to know why a growing number of Americans are becoming career activists, you need look no further than the Board of Directors at Hewlett-Packard. If you’re wondering why so many of the country’s working men and women have taken their careers into their own hands, take a look at the cowardice of these mighty captains of industry.

As described in a recent New York Times column by Joe Nocera, the Board fired the company’s CEO, Michael V. Hurd, the other day for all the right reasons. He was abusing the company’s culture and its employees while enriching himself.

How was that cowardice? Instead of announcing the real reason for his dismissal, the Board concocted an excuse that involved Hurd having an inappropriate relationship with a contractor and fudging on his expenses reports.

Was that stupid behavior on Hurd’s part? Absolutely. Was it deserving of censure? Unquestionably – we have too many leaders who don’t model good behavior. But, was it a sufficient cause for firing the man? Absolutely not.

So, why did the Board use that excuse?

They chickened out. You see, the one thing Hurd did do well was please the greed-masters on Wall Street. He turned in great numbers, and numbers are all that count for the hedge fund hotshots and derivative dons at Goldman Sachs et. al.. The Board was afraid that if they used the truth – “lousy leadership” – as the rationale for sacking Hurd, they would kill the goose that laid the golden egg: those ever rising share prices for HP stock.

With that kind of cowardice in the boardroom, American workers have no choice but to take care of themselves. They can’t rely on CEOs or their Board bosses to provide any cover at all for them. So, they’re taking action on their own.

Where’s the proof?

Consider this: A recent survey at H.P. found that two-thirds of its employees would leave if they got an offer from another company. And then there’s this: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, between February and April of this year, more Americans quit their jobs (2 million) than were laid off (1.7 million). That’s courage at work … and the foot steps of self-reliant persons of talent. I call them career activists.

Thanks for reading,
Peter