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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Reconstituting the Ethical Culture at HP

View the PowerPoint Presentation (pdf)

Hewlett-Packard Vice President and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer Jon Hoak talked about renewing H-P's commitment to a culture of integrity at a recent meeting with members of the Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

Hoak, former general counsel at NCR, was brought into the company last year in the wake of revelations that HP had spied on board members to determine the source of media leaks.

Hoak said that given the "proud tradition" of values at Hewlett-Packard, sometimes called "the HP way," this "pretexting" scandal was a special embarrassment. "Employees felt they'd been betrayed," he said, but the incident was a "wake-up call to be thinking about the importance of ethics."

In fact, Hoak described the company's new vision for ethics and compliance as a competitive advantage. He detailed the action items his office laid out to rebuild the company's reputation in this area:

  • Revise the Ethics and Compliance structure
  • Improved collaboration
  • Investigator procurement program and investigation guidelines
  • Competitive intelligence: Training and procurement program
  • Case management and reporting
  • Training Initiatives
  • Internal Communications
  • Revise the SBC (Code of Conduct)
  • Enhance SBC processes

Hoak said he has been aided in the efforts by a reservoir of good will that had been built up over HP's history. In his assessment, the problems the company confronted, although serious, involved only a few people.

The Number 1 take-away, he believes, is that the people involved were only concerned about whether pretexting was legal. "Nobody asked, 'Even if it's legal, is it the right thing to do?'"

Nov 1, 2007