Patricia Cecile Dunn was born in Burbank, California on 27th March 1953. She holds a BA in Journalism from University of California, Berkeley. After college, she got a job at Wells Fargo & Co where she worked as a temporary secretary. This is where Dunn met her future husband, William. Eventually, she became the CEO of Barclays Global Investors after the company acquired the Wells Fargo’s asset management division. Later, Patricia joined HP as a member of the Board of its Directors. She received the “Financial Woman of the Year” award from the Financial Women’s Association of San Francisco in 2001. She finally succeeded Carly Fiorina as the board chairperson (Kessler et al, 2006). Moreover, she was a non executive Vice Chairperson of Barclays Global Investors from 2002 to 6th October, 2006 a day after she was indicted.
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HP is a reputable computer industry which has been successful for many years. Its competitive edge results from its effective business strategies, and its capacity to hold trade secrets. However, in the period 2005 to 2006, information leaks thought to have originated from a member(s) of the board were published. Dunn, seeking to enforce the company traditions, landed herself in a controversy with her effort to uncover the origin of the board level leakages (Kamm, 1996). Dunn sanctioned the hiring of investigators who employed the procedure of obtaining personal phone records of every member of the board of directors and journalists who covered the HP story. They did this through pretexting, a practice which is illegal under the California law (Beauchamp et al, 1991). The practice involves the use of trickery and deceit with the aim of obtaining individuals’ private records. In a September 12, 2006 press release, HP indicated that Mark Hurd was set to replace Dunn on January 18, 2007. The company had wished that done would continue to serve as a board member. However, Dunn resigned from the two positions on September 22, 2006 and Hurd became the Chairman (Kopytoff, 2006). Ann Baskins, the HP General Counsel who advised Dunn of legal matters resigned on 28th September, 2006.
Pretexting is a social engineering practice where a person attempts to obtain information from other through false pretenses. The scammer pretends to be a legitimate person, and after a series of innocuous questions, he wins the victim trust who then gives their private information willingly. Pretexting is unethical and needs to be discouraged. Personal information obtained through pretence can easily be used by criminals to blackmail, extort, or track someone’s movement; and this would endanger life. This is why many jurisdictions have passed legislations incriminating it. My opinion is that everyone who is proved to have acted with pretence should be punished according to the law.
Patricia Dunn was the chairperson of HP. Recognizing the damage that leaked trade secrets would cause to the company; she sanctioned the hiring of qualified and reputable investigators who had the capacity to uncover the source of the leaks. I presume that she must have sought the advice of General Counsel Ann Baskins, who during the saga did not indicate that Patricia Dunn did neglect her advice. The available information does not indicate that Dunn and Ann clashed. Therefore, Dunn acted in the best way under the prevailing circumstances. Assuming that she told the truth in her resignation letter, Patricia did not specify the method of investigation. All she wanted is the results of the investigation. Therefore, I conclude that the investigation firm was solely responsible for the crime.
Dunn had the best interest of the company at her heart because the results of the investigation were meant to help hold the source responsible. She wanted to deter any future acts that would sabotage the operations of the company. Consequently, she acted to the benefit of the company as she was obligated to. Had her efforts been successful, they would have increased the universal happiness of the society. In fact, actions which increase happiness or those that diminishes pain were encouraged by the British philosopher named Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) as they correspond to the laws of governments, citizens, and nature.
Nature places humanity under the sovereign of two masters, pain and pleasure, and it’s upon the individuals to decide how they ought to act (Lyons et al, 1965). Dunn decided to act in a manner that would have secured the future of the company also safeguarded the livelihood of the employees and their families. These kinds of actions are for the greater good and wellbeing of the society. According to the law of utility, the principles of right and wrong are in us in all that we do, say, or think. These principles could have haunted Dunn had she underestimated or ignored the danger that the leaks posed to the company. Therefore, she had to take some correctional measures.
Private investigation companies are legal, and are presumed to be guided by ethical standard as they conduct their businesses. It would have been wrong had Dunn hired blackmailers in an attempt to get quick results. There is no evidence that indicates that Dunn harassed the investigators causing them to work hurriedly. Therefore, they used these illegal means out of their own free will; they chose to. Patricia would actually have wished they follow legal and ethical guidelines to avoid further embarrassment of the company. Moreover, she expresses remorse that her deeds resulted into more shame. She states in her resignation letter that the people she thought would help uncover the scandal ended up letting her and the company down.
The judge dropped charges against Patricia “in the interest of justice” (Singer et al, 1981). He criticized Attorney General Bill Lockyer indicting her in the first place (Wong et al, 2006). Patricia was proved to have been an innocent all along; she was a victim of circumstances. It was not logical for Bill Locker to leave General Counsel Ann Baskins out of the list of the people he indicted since she was the legal adviser of the company. Ann Baskins was supposed to have known the possible consequences of Patricia Bunn’s actions better, and she ought to have acted in a way that would benefit the company. There was no legal evidence that Bunn acted reprehensively. Her actions were guided by adherence to beneficial principles like free will and respect.
Patricia Bunn succeeded Carly Fiorina who had been fired for her failure to meet profit targets. On her appointment, she attended a party at the director’s private home together with the CEO. The two didn’t get along very well, and they got bored (Rosen et al, 2003). They had completely different views of life. When the director excused himself to go and play with his toy helicopter, Bunn and the CEO are left discussing more serious matters. She appeared not to have appreciated being played with by the director. When the pretexting scandal was revealed, the director attacked Bunn harshly; a manner that indicated that they had a difficult relationship (Waller et al, 2005). This shows that some of those who condemned her had personal issues, which was selfish, and not aimed for the greater good of the society. Dunn’s actions were bold. Investigating her colleagues in the board of directors was not easy, but she opted to act the matter to be solved to enable everyone to work without deterrence that may result from psychological torture.
Dunn’s biography demonstrates her as a sympathetic and altruistic person (Martin et al, 1970). Her father died when she was eleven years old; and the family had a difficult life after his demise. When Bunn was older, she had to drop out of the University of Oregon in 1970. This delayed her graduation till 1975 at the University of California. Dunn has never indicated that she regrets this, and she assisted her mother without complaining. When HP director and the CEO were discussing Carly Fiorina in a derogatory manner, she refused to comment. This shows that she has a kind heart, and that her actions are only aimed at what is beneficial to the society (Flew, 1979).
I believe that Patricia Cecile Dunn should not have been forced to resign. Patricia is a self-starter and a hardworking person, the kind of whom Hewlett-Packard should have lost. The board should not have pressed her to resign as she was acting to safe the image and the future of the company and society as a whole. Her hardworking traits date back to the time when she was young, and had to support her mother; and when she worked at Wells Fargo. During her time at Wells Fargo, she also had to work as a freelance journalist (Stewart, 2007), to supplement her earnings. Moreover, it is wrong to punish a person based on inadequate evidence, as this may affect her emotionally which would hurt her, her family, friends, and those who look up to her.
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