Translating Corporate Speak: Hewlett-Packard Board

by Mr Juggles

Executives and companies love to obfuscate (see related research Translating Corporate Speak: Auto OEM’s and Translating Corporate Speak: MOVI & BBI). Since it’s hard to understand the real meaning of their statements, we have provided a handy translation. Here are the words of the Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) Board of Directors run through our propietary translation algorithm.

Corporate speak:

HP used an unidentified private investigator, who in turn hired a contractor who used pretexting to obtain directors’ and reporters’ phone records.

Translation:
-HP’s Board hired a 3rd party to “pretext” a fellow Board member and reporters to whom they believed he was speaking. And by “pretext” they meant falsely impersonate. The 3rd party was hired to offload risk.
-The 3rd party firm, which was hired to falsely impersonate a Board member and reporters, wisely hired a 3rd party to perform this illegal task. This 3rd party (6th party?) was hired to offload risk.

Corporate speak:

[Patricia Dunn, Chairman of HP’s Board] said she only found out Wednesday night that investigators hired by HP had also used pretexting to gain access to reporters’ phone records.

Translation:
She only meant to illegally access the accounts of her fellow Board member and never intended to anger reporters for large, national newspapers who could end up forcing her resignation.

Corporate speak:

HP said a board committee investigating the matter was ‘advised by the committee’s outside counsel that the use of pretexting at the time of the investigation was not generally unlawful (except with respect to financial institutions), but such counsel could not confirm that the techniques’ of outside investigators ‘complied in all respects with applicable law.’

Translation:
Damn, that was definitely illegal. Let’s start blaming outside counsel.

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