Monday, September 17, 2012

HP to cut 27,000 jobs

The fact that Hewlett-Packard has started a wave of layoffs isn't really a story, as it really represents business as usual.  That this isn't a story is a story.

Believe it or not, there was a time when HP didn't lay off employees.  Seeing workers as assets that were valued rather than disposable goods was part of a philosophy known as the HP Way.  Indeed, it is fair to say no company so huge has ever treated its workers so well as HP did.  That all changed under the leadership of Carly Fiorina, who instituted the first wave of job cuts during her time as CEO from 1999-2005.  The current round of layoffs merely represent the realities of a new business philosophy.

(A little side note: I know a lot about the HP Way because my dad was an HP executive who took great pride in how well the company treated its workers.  He left early in 2001, seeing the writing on the wall that Fioriana was an abusive CEO who didn't see the value of those beneath her.)

Perhaps it isn't a coincidence that Fioriana was the GOP nominee in 2010 for the California Senate race.  Likewise, Meg Whitman, the current CEO, was the 2010 GOP nominee for California governor.  Both are noted for being "moderate" Republicans, whatever the hell that means.  Of course, the connection to the Republican Party and HP isn't new: David Packard, the business brains behind HP, was a Deputy Defense Secretary under Richard Nixon.  Despite his conservative street cred, it was he who fully embraced the no layoff philosophy, believing workers would only achieve at their fullest if they knew the company they served stood behind them.

Today, there are really no corporate executives, either Democrat or Republican in political loyalties, who share Mr. Packard's sympathetic and progressive outlook.  In this sense, the job cuts at HP don't represent a change in merely the philosophy of CEOs ore the Republican Party, but a change of view in workers from the entire political establishment...


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