Carly Fiorina: Illegal Printer Sales Not My Fault

business_ethics_highlights_2Carly Fiorina is dodging responsibility, and that may be OK. The US Presidential hopeful says that it’s not her fault that millions of HP printers were sold in Iran, contrary to US law, while she was CEO of the company. And while much depends on factual details that are hidden from most outside observers, she may be entirely right. It’s common for CEO’s to say that “the buck stops here” — that they ultimately accept responsibility for what goes on at their companies — but there’s a practical limit to that ethos. Particularly interesting is Fiorina’s first point, below: a company like HP is just too big for the CEO to know everything that happens. (Compare: how fair is it to expect the mayor of a town of 300,000 people to take full responsibility for any and all crimes committed?) Of course, this fact — the impossibility of direct control — implies a strong responsibility to put in place systems of control, such that even if the CEO can’t control things directly, she at least has some degree of confidence that things she can’t monitor will still be done right. >>>

LINK: Carly Fiorina Responds to Criticism of Hewlett-Packard Sales in Iran (by Ali Elkin for Bloomberg)

…”First, HP, you need to remember, was larger than each of the 50 states,” Fiorina said. “It’s a larger budget than any one of our 50 states, and a global enterprise. And so it’s impossible to ensure that nothing wrong ever happens. The question is what do you do when you find out.”

…”In fact, the SEC investigation proved that neither I nor anyone else in management knew about it…” she insisted, adding, “…when the company discovered this three years after I left, they cut off all ties. The SEC investigated very thoroughly and concluded that no one in management was aware.”….

What do you think?

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