Last week it was reported that Mark Hurd, the CEO of technology giant Hewlett Packard (HP), was recently investigated by his board of directors after they received a complaint against him of sexual harrassment.
While the investigation revealed Hurd had not violated any company sexual harassment policies, it did uncover the allegation that Hurd submitted numerous false expense reports in an attempt to cover his relationship with a female contractor.
And he resigned. He is gone. GAWN!
Let's consider the stark contrasts between how HP and Mark Hurd handled their scandal, and how Liberty University and Ergun Caner handled theirs:
1. HP didn't wait for the press to be involved: HP received a credible complaint from a female of sexual harrassment against Hurd. Unlike Liberty, they apparently chose not to dismiss it as long as they could, instead, they acted on the allegation in a timely fashion. Liberty was content on not doing ANYTHING, unless their hand was forced by the secular media. After all, Caner is "God's man", and there's that "touch not God's anointed" verse in the bible.
2. HP didn't consider the religion of the accuser in assessing credibility: Unlike Caner's most ardent defenders, HP didn't attack this woman and call her a liar because of her religion or her theological viewpoints. They didn't accuse her of trying to destroy "God's man". Caner and the band of pastors who have defended him dismissed the allegations against Caner because they came from a "Muslim" and from a "Calvinist", and in their warped world, all words spoken by Muslims are lies, and Calvinist Christian brothers can't be trusted.
3. HP conducted an internal investigation, and clearly reported the results to all who had an interest. HP did an investigation, and then issued a very clear statement as to what they did find, and what they didn't find, and the reasons of their ensuing action concerning Hurd. They knew this was their ethical obligation, to be truthful to those who have an interest in the future of HP. Liberty, on the other hand, was as vague as they possibly could be with their investigation results, not telling anyone what they found in any substantive fashion, leaving room for multiple interpretations of their actions that just fueled more controversy - which in the end is harming their university even more.
4. HP stated what Hurd did wrong, and cleared him for that which they believe he did not do. They did not leave their findings up to interpretation. HP said they found he did not violate the company's sexual harrassment policy, but that they uncovered numerous false expense reports used to hide his relationship with the woman, who was an HP contractor. Liberty on the other hand, in their statement did not address the decade long string of lies told by Caner to thousands of Christians over 8 1/2 years. They did address one specific issue which really was NOT one of the major complaints - whether Caner was or was not a Muslim at one time. On the more serious issues they kept their silence.
5. HP actually held their leader to their established standards of conduct. As stated in their press release, HP found that Hurd did not violate the sexual harrassment policy, but did violate the "HP Standards of Business Conduct" (click here to read them - it is a pdf file) that all HP employees must abide by. What a contrast to Liberty; as pointed out by Wade Burleson here, Liberty has clearly established policies of honesty and truthfulness applying to students and staff alike - that if fairly applied to Caner's conduct, it is hard to imagine that he would not have been found guilty of violating many of those standards. At Liberty, apparently your average run-of-the-mill professor and student are held to a much higher ethical standard than the president of the seminary. How sad is that?
6. Mark Herd gave a written statement, and he stepped down for the good of the organization: OK, maybe that is a stretch - he is getting a golden parachute of millions of dollars, but Herd did give a clear statement of admission of wrong-doing. He didn't address specifics of his sins, but did admit he didn't live up to the ethical standards expected of him. How refreshing, an admission of guilt. Caner, on the other hand refuses to say anything at all. Zippo. Herd's statement included the following:
“As the investigation progressed, I realized there were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles of trust, respect and integrity that I have espoused at HP and which have guided me throughout my career. After a number of discussions with members of the board, I will move aside and the board will search for new leadership. This is a painful decision for me to make after five years at HP, but I believe it would be difficult for me to continue as an effective leader at HP and I believe this is the only decision the board and I could make at this time."7. Herd and his friends are not speaking and blogging about his "haters" trying to bring him down. And his friends are not attacking the woman who made the allegations because of her Calvinistic religious view points. Herd and his friends are not trying to shift the focus from his own actions, to the motives or religious viewpoints of his accuser. Apparently Herd doesn't hang out with blogging wannabe megachurch pastors like those who vigorously defend Caner. Good for him, he selects his friends well.
8. HP did not put the success and talents of their leader above the integrity of their company. OK, maybe they wanted to get rid of Herd anyways, who knows. But do any research on Mark Herd, and you'll see he was a wildly successful CEO of HP by almost any measure. He had the company on the right track: stock was up. sales were increasing even in this brutal economy. But the board apparently knows that the truthfulness and integrity of the leader is most important than these. Liberty did can Caner from the president's position (or maybe not, according to his defenders!), but one wonders if their slowness to respond and reluctance to take firm action is based on Caner's wild popularity and what his dismissal might do to their enrollment.
9. Finally, a Prediction: I'll go out on a limb and predict one of Herd's friends won't start a website devoted to telling us of Herd's integrity, attacking Herd's critics' religion, and soliciting input from other CEO's. Yes, Caner's friend Stormin' Norman Geisler has put up a site to try to defend Caner from the "false and defaming allegations" made against his friend that led to Caner losing his presidency at LBTS. Geisler and others continue to defend Caner by attacking the "Muslim" and "extreme Calvinists" behind the conspiracy to bring down Caner. That, my friends, is life in Baptist la-la land.
So there you have it: when you compare the ethical standards Baptist have for their seminary presidents to that of CEO's, it is not hard to see why there are so many blogs in Southern Baptist as compared to other denominations. There is no mechanism by which misbehaving ordained ministers are held accountable. Blogs will continue to fill that void.
And when you take a step back and look at this - is it any wonder Baptist leaders refuse to take any steps toward tracking the sexual predators in their midst? The free-wheeling, good-ole-boy, no accountability and no transparency culture of the SBC makes that completely out of the question.
But let's hope the SBC and its pastors can learn something from corporate American other than how to market their brand name. Thank you Jesus for our corporate boards that are showing the way of integrity and transparency as an example to our Baptist leaders. Amen.