PALO ALTO, CA: In a move that flouted their traditional PR
trategy, members of Hewlett-Packard's (HP) board of directors have
publicly thrown their support to Carly Fiorina, the company's embattled
CEO, through the Financial Times newspaper.
In an article that followed, Fiorina spoke to the FT about the gender
stereotypes that she feels have dominated coverage of HP.
Several non-executive board members, "breaking a long-standing tradition
of public silence," according to Louise Kehoe of the FT, told the paper
that Fiorina has their "100 percent support."
Fiorina, who became CEO in July 1999, has been the target of harsh
criticism in the media and among analysts as HP has foundered in a tough
Earnings fell 90% in the third fiscal quarter compared to last year.
The overall financial performance of the company since she took over has
been analyzed in depth by the media, including Christopher Byron in the
New York Observer. "I am sure that if Fiorina were a man, she'd be
getting no end of grief for this miserable performance," he wrote. "Pack
it in, babe - you stink."
"I was not prepared for the onslaught of media attention," Fiorina told
the FT. "I expected people to ask about the company ... but most of them
didn't. It was all about personality, gender - and it really took me
Applied Communications handles corporate PR for HP and declined to
comment on the strategic shift.