Ethics Upgrade at Oracle?

I’m not sure what to make of Mark Hurd, Hewlett-Packard, Larry Ellison, and Oracle.

HP threw Hurd out on the street for some stupid behavior. By throwing out on the street, I mean let him keep most of his compensation package.

Larry Ellison immediately came to his defense. He even went a step further and hired him as co-president of Oracle. Not only that, they are giving him a seat on their Board of Directors.

That angered H-P so much they filed a lawsuit to stop him from taking the job. They want him on the street, not with a competitor.

I keep scratching my head over the behavior of H-P’s board. They fired him, but let him keep a compensation package. If they thought it was a serious ethical lapse, then they should have made it for cause and kept the compensation. The definition of “for cause” was probably set too high for Hurd’s stupid actions. But the H-P Board didn’t even try.

Oracle’s stock jumped on the news of Hurd’s hiring. H-P’s Stock took a tumble when they announced his firing.

It makes a compliance and ethics guy like me scratch his head and wonder: does compliance and ethics really matter? To answer that, we need to look at the original incident and decide if Hurd’s behavior so unethical that he should have been fired.