Hewlett-Packard Ousts 'Most Powerful Woman in Business'


2005-2-17

I'm Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Economics Report.

Women lead eight of the fivehundred largest American companies. The number fell last week whenthe directors of Hewlett-Packard asked Carly Fiorina to resign. Aday later, the Sara Lee Corporation named Brenda Barnes as its chiefexecutive officer.

Carly Fiorina was the first chief executive chosen from outsideHewlett-Packard. She was brought in to make changes at thetechnology company. Fortune magazine named her "the most powerfulwoman in business."

Soon after she arrived at H-P, Miz Fiorina stated that "there isno glass ceiling." A lot of people thought she meant that women andminorities face no barriers to rising in companies. A researchgroup, Catalyst, found that women held sixteen percent of top jobsat the largest American companies in two thousand two. Miz Fiorinasaid her point was that people who see possibilities do better overtime than those who see limitations.

Many chief executives keep their jobs just three or four years.Miz Fiorina stayed almost six. Business advisers Booz Allen Hamiltonfound the world average to be around eight years.

Some people say Carly Fiorina received the same treatment that aman would have received. Critics said she kept too much power toherself. They said her actions harmed financial performance. H-Pstock now sells for less than half its price when she arrived.

Miz Fiorina entered into the culture of a company started in aone-car garage in California in nineteen thirty-nine. In twothousand one she announced a deal to combine Hewlett-Packard withCompaq Computer.

Some shareholders resisted. Walter Hewlett, the son of one of thetwo men who started H-P, opposed the deal in court. But shareholdersapproved it in March of two thousand two.

Results have been mixed. Since the merger with Compaq, H-P hasincreased its share of the world computer market to almost sixteenpercent. But Dell has grown faster. That company now holds almosttwenty percent of the highly competitive market.

Still, H-P remains the leading maker of computer printers in theworld. And it is now the eleventh largest company in the UnitedStates.

The ouster of Carly Fiorina means the largest one led by a womanwill be Sara Lee. Sara Lee, best known for food products, is onehundred fourth on the Fortune Five Hundred list of top Americancompanies.

This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by MarioRitter. I'm Gwen Outen.