Some notable and quotable items from the news:
The WSJ reported today that “the woman [HP contractor Jodie Fisher] was paid at times when there was no legitimate purpose.” In plain English, this means that he sent money to her that belongs to HP shareholders for work that she did not do. If true, this is clearly a firing offense. If it’s not fraud, then what is it?
The HP board, it seems to me, should have fired Hurd for cause and taken away his severance, which is being valued at about $35 million by The Journal.
As my friend Nell Minow, the corporate-governance expert and founder of The Corporate Library, tweeted the other day, linking to a column by Henry Blodget:
See Nell’s blog here.
As for those who say Hurd will be hard to replace, well, if that’s indeed the case, that’s his fault. A key job of any CEO is to groom potential successors, and assemble a team that can keep a company running smoothly in his or her absence. It’s never a one-man show, and shouldn’t be. One measure of just how well Hurd led HP will be the company’s performance in the next couple of years.
A climate “Pearl Harbor”: Congress’s reluctance or inability to act to curb global warming has led some people, notably Joe Romm, to speculate about what it might take to spur action. Back in 2008, Romm listed a number of “climatic mini-catastrophes” that might move public and policymaker opinion, among them the Arctic going ice-free, a mega-drought hitting the American southwest, more super storms like Katrina and “a heatwave as bad as Europe’s 2003.” I don’t know how the current Russian heat wave compares to the 2003 heat. But shouldn’t it be a wake-up call, if not a Pearl Harbor, when it comes to global warming?
For a detailed meteorological analysis, see Dr. Rob Carver’s blog at Weather Underground. Russian officials now say the heatwave has cost 5,000 lives as fires range out of control, says the Telegraph. Russia banned grain exports last week, with uncertain effects on world food prices. “Russian grain exports totaled 21.4 million metric tons last year, about 17 percent of the global grain trade,” The Times reported. What’s more, according to The Times’ Green blog, Russia’s president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, blamed the crisis on climate change and called for action:
What’s happening with the planet’s climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us, meaning all heads of state, all heads of social organizations, in order to take a more energetic approach to countering the global changes to the climate.
Unhappily, a crisis in Russia is highly unlikely to rouse the U.S. Senate to action. But imagine if this heat and drought were affecting wheat farmers in, say, Kansas and North Dakota?
Actually, even that might not have an impact. A poll released last week by the Shelton Group found that most people who doubt that climate change is occurring, and caused by man-made activity, would not change their mind even if reality of man-made global warming consumers would not change even if the polar ice cap melted, kids couldn’t go outside to play or shifting weather patterns turned Nebraska into a desert. My goodness.
But the good news is…that while Congress is stalled on the energy and climate front, and while consumers seem less engaged, companies are increasingly finding that sustainability is good for business. As my friend and colleague Joel Makower reports at GreenBiz.com:
The footwear and apparel industry has joined forces to create an Eco Index tool to better understand materials’ and products’ impacts….Meanwhile, appliance makers agreed last week to new energy and water efficiency standards for major appliances that will reduce the nation’s utility bills by billions of dollars. A new bartering exchange was launched to help small businesses with excess supply of goods or services barter for things they need. And John Finisdore writes of an effort by more than 200 companies to understand and manage their dependence and impact on ecosystem services.
Speaking of Greenbiz, later this month I will be leading an online conversation with John D. Gagel, Sustainability Manager at Lexmark International, and Daniel Schmid, Head of Sustainability Operations at SAP, about how sustainability initiatives can drive profitability. We’ll hear stories from Lexmark and SAP about tools and techniques for monitoring, measuring and reporting on corporate sustainability performance with an aim to driving financial returns. Greenbiz will host the free webcast on Tuesday, August 24, and it is likely to fill up fast, so register soon.