Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Goodbye, Carly

Goodbye to Hewlett-Packard's CEO, Carly Fiorina, fired today by a board claiming she failed to deliver on goals to reduce costs and boost revenues. Maybe the board was right; stocks rose 6 percent after the announcement.

CEOs come and go based on performance. We can only hope performance was indeed the reason for Fiorina's departure. Her six years in charge were more often notable because of her gender. Indeed, the announcement of her election to CEO was documented as an awkward, televised dance, where neither Fiorina nor the male with her knew whether to shake hands, give each other high fives, hug or dance. Seeing that tape again tonight was still embarrassing for all involved.

Fiorina's personal career notwithstanding, she was good for women in business. Under her reign, women were hired without that same awkward "gee, we got another girl" kind of nonsense that Fiorina herself had to endure. Women, like men, were considered based on their merit, their abilities and talents.

I started working in a male-dominated field in 1976 (if you don't count high school and college). I so clearly remember being told by the old men I worked with that women, especially young women, were a bad risk for companies because we would probably get married, get pregnant and quit. God help anyone who got the order of that wrong!

Well, most of those old men are dead now, and hiring practices have progressed. But equality won't be real until events like Fiorina's firing are no longer newsworthy because of her personal plumbing. Hired or fired, gender should not matter.


FrenziedFeline said...

Perhaps the change in hiring practices also has something to do with employees not staying with one company for 30 years anymore. Now, not only could a young woman quit to get married and have kids, but a man could quit to go on to the next opportunity. Either way, it's a risk, and not worth taking gender into consideration.

Erudite Redneck said...

I confess that I had never heard of this woman until now. But then I was busy for the past three and a half years.