It feels like a disturbing trend. Or maybe it is a good one.
Best Buy Chief Executive Brian Dunn resigned in April after a company probe into his "personal conduct" after 30 years with the company. Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd resigned in 2010 after a sexual harassment probe found he had a "close personal relationship" with an HP contractor who received improper payments. And now comes word that the CEO of Restoration Hardware has resigned over a relationship with a female employee.
Powerful men, brought down by seemingly avoidable, irresponsible personal behavior.
Have we learned nothing from the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair (and subsequent Presidential impeachment), and the John Edwards fall from grace?
The Hurd affair cost the technology company millions of dollars in payments to Hurd and his paramour. Best Buy lost a strong CEO right at the turning point of a company headed to potential corporate disaster in the marketplace, and deliverd Dunn a $6.6 million severence package. And Restoration Hardware fired the CEO who turned the company around—from near bankruptcy to being on the verge of an IPO.
And what for?
We all make mistakes, but we trust that powerful CEOs make fewer of them in return for being paid handsomely and being given the responsibility over billion dollar companies and countless employee’s livelihoods.
The CEOs of HP, Best Buy and Restoration Hardware are not the first to engage in personal indiscretions on the job. Nor are they the first to be caught. They are, however some of the most recent and high-profile cases of corporations holding their chief executives responsible for indiscretions which break company policy.
While Bill Clinton’s dalliances did nothing to stop John Edwards’ affair, I don’t expect HP, Best Buy and Restoration Hardware will be the last to fire a CEO for personal misjudgments.
At least I hope not.
I find it hard to overlook the indiscretions of these otherwise successful men, and it is nice to see that corporations more and more hold CEOs to the same standard they have for other employees. I guess it is time for the C-Suite to acknowledge that they are not immune, or all-powerful in their position.