Questionable HR comes with a high cost
Should the personal beliefs of a CEO don one issue determine if they are qualified to run a company or not. Based on the recent series of events at Mozilla, the answer seems to be a resounding yes.
HR problems took down the entire management structure at Mozilla in the last 30 days.
I missed a lot of the first furor over the Brendan Eich situation at Mozilla.
According to CNET:
Much of that credit evaporated as he struggled to reconcile his 2008 contribution of $1,000 to Proposition 8, a California measure against gay marriage, with Mozilla’s explicit culture of inclusiveness. That inclusiveness is central to the world-spanning organization’s breadth, and Eich told CNET in an interview that it protected his own views, too.
But his argument didn’t persuade critics, and Mozilla management — accustomed to taking the moral high ground — had to defend itself from boycotts and outrage.
Eich tried to lay these concerns to rest, addressing them in a blog post on his personal site in which he sets forth his views and commitment on Inclusiveness at Mozilla.
….I ask for your ongoing help to make Mozilla a place of equality and welcome for all. Here are my commitments, and here’s what you can expect:
- Active commitment to equality in everything we do, from employment to events to community-building.
- Working with LGBT communities and allies, to listen and learn what does and doesn’t make Mozilla supportive and welcoming.
- My ongoing commitment to our Community Participation Guidelines, our inclusive health benefits, our anti-discrimination policies, and the spirit that underlies all of these.
- My personal commitment to work on new initiatives to reach out to those who feel excluded or who have been marginalized in ways that makes their contributing to Mozilla and to open source difficult. More on this last item below.
Despite these efforts, the Mozilla CEO ultimately decided to resign due to the on-going controversy concerning his contribution to a group supporting California’s anti-gay Proposition 8. This followed the resignations of three Mozilla board members who had previously stepped down over Eich’s appointment. That’s a significant amount of fallout for any organization, but especially significant for a business like Mozilla, a non-profit competing against huge competitors like Microsoft and Google.
HR problems brought down the Board and the CEO. Organizational values, succession planning, background checks, talent selection, fit to hire and even something as basic as a background check all played a part in this drama.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the three departing directors resigned over the Eich hiring , believing that the company needed to hire someone with different qualifications, specifically someone more experienced in mobile. It’s likely that Mozilla’s approach in selecting the next CEO will look significantly different.