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August 13, 2015

HP earns diversity praise as post-split boards revealed

Fears over white male dominance gets response in Silicon Valley.

By Jimmy Nicholls

Hewlett-Packard earnt applause from diversity campaigners after its post-split boards were hailed as "the most diverse" of any tech company in the US.

Under plans revealed this week HP revealed it would spread previous board members across both companies, but will also appoint four black executives across both boards, seemingly responding to anxieties in Silicon Valley over the dominance of white men.

Leslie Brun, chief executive of investment firm Sarr Group, and Pamela Carter, a former president of Cummins Distribution, will be among the directors at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which will handle the company’s enterprise hardware business from November onwards.

Meanwhile Stacey Mobley, former chief administrative officer at chemical firm DuPont, and Stacy Brown-Philpot, chief operating officer of handyman market TaskRabbit, will join HP Inc, the company’s PC and printing divisions.

Jesse Jackson, an American activist who has campaigned for greater diversity in Silicon Valley, said: "Minority inclusion in the leadership of tech companies is at the forefront of the industry’s agenda.

"HP is answering the call. By appointing two African-Americans on each of its two new boards of directors for Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc, they will have the most diverse boards of any tech company in America," he said.

At an HP shareholder meeting last year Jackson urged the company to hire more black and Latino workers, saying the firm needed to "assume a different level of leadership."

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Whilst Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s board will be predominantly white, the 13-strong panel contains four women, with Patricia Russo chairing the panel and Meg Whitman, current HP chief executive, poised to lead the firm after four years running the currently unified HP.

HP Inc’s board of 12 also has four women, including Whitman who will chair, as well as two Indian men in Rajiv Gupta and Subra Suresh, whose countryman Sundar Pichai has just been appointed to head up Google after the search engine’s restructuring.

Dion Weisler, a white Australian man who joined HP a mere three years ago, will lead HP Inc as its chief executive.

"The post-separation boards for both Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. comprise leaders with some of the most diverse backgrounds and professional experiences I’ve seen in my career," said Whitman, who will sit on both boards.

"I’m confident that these boards will successfully serve the needs of both companies and their shareholders at a defining moment in time."

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