Murthy sex row: CEOs prone to ‘misdemeanors’

By ZRG | Last Updated: May 22, 2013, 12:41 PM IST

Zee Research Group

On May 21 the board of California based IT outsourcing company iGate Corp announcement the sacking of its President and CEO Phaneesh Murthy over alleged sexual harassment claims. This act of board shows that IT sector tries to maintain highest standard of governance.

The company in its press release stated, “The investigation, which is ongoing, has reached the finding that Murthy’s failure to report this relationship violated iGATE’s policy, as well as Murthy’s employment contract.” However, Murthy in a conference call with reporters has trashed all charges against him and said that “he has not violated the policy of company.”

The sacking of high profile Murthy reignites the debate over powerful chief executives quest for sexual misdemeanors. Is the belief of invincibility that leads them to allegedly act inappropriately or are they victims of relationships having turned sour? The verdict is not yet out on that!

Going back to Murthy, interestingly, it is not for the first time that he has been allegedly charged with sexual harassment claims. As a matter of fact, Murthy was forced to quit Infosys in 2002 when a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against him by former executive secretary Reka Maximovitch. However, Infosys went for an out-of-court settlement with her by paying around three million dollars.

Murthy is not alone in facing such allegations as there are many instances across the globe where several successful high profile CEOs’ have been charged over sexual misconduct.

In 2007, Steven J Heyer, the CEO of Starwood Hotels (an American hotel and leisure company), was ousted by the hotel company`s board amid allegations that he had sent inappropriate and suggestive e-mails and text messages to a female employee.

The year 2010 was quite a year for sex scandals. Mark Hurd, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HP), resigned after a claim of sexual harassment made by a former contractor against him. Jodie Fisher, the female contractor worked as a marketing consultant for HP.

Similarly, David Davidar, the CEO of Penguin Books Canada, was asked to leave the company after a sexual harassment complaint by a former director of the company, Lisa Rundle. She had accused him of harassing her for three years and then assaulting her at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Furthermore, Mark McInnes, the CEO of David Jones (Australian department store chain), was terminated after a female staff member filed a sexual harassment complaint.

In 2011, Eugene O’Neill, the CEO of Ryanair (an Irish low-cost airline), was sentenced to two years in jail after losing his appeal of sexually assaulting a young woman in her home in Dublin on November 19, 2006.

In 2012, Jang Suk Woo, the CEO of Open World Entertainment (an entertainment agency), was charged with sexual assault against female trainees in his agency and was sentenced to six years in prison. He was charged with rape and violation of child protection laws.

There have been denials though by respective CEOs’ at the time of filing of charges against them.