Are you amazed when some of the smartest business men take some of the dumbest risks in their careers -- and reputations? Thanks to a sexual harassment allegation cooked up by Gloria Allred, Mark Hurd, the soon-to-be former CEO of Hewlett Packard joins the list of top executives who will be remembered--and Googled--for their misconduct rather than their business acumen. His misdeeds? Business dinners.
Many have asked, how could he have not realized that having dinner, alone, with a woman on multiple occasions was inappropriate? Others have asked, when did having dinner become a crime? And the peanut gallery has chimed in with, "I hope those dinners were worth losing a multi-million dollar salary."
Being the optimist that I am, I'm giving Hurd the benefit of the doubt that his dinners with the alleged victim were not driven by the usual suspects in sexual harassment claims -- power and lust. It's quite possible that he innocently believed he was just taking a business colleague out for dinner -- again, and again.
So, to help the Mark Hurds out there, I have put together a top ten list of signs that your meetings with a woman colleague may no longer be innocent business dinners:
1) if you are meeting for dinner at a restaurant that offers a romance package--and you are taking advantage of it.
2) if you are meeting a woman for dinner at a restaurant that is located in hotel, and you cavalierly mention this convenient amenity a couple of times
3) if you snap at an office buddy who agrees to join you for dinner
4) if you wear your lucky underwear to dinner -- and they are actually clean
5) if you ignore your telephone and text messages because you are so wrapped up with what your dinner date is saying
6) if you pick her up for dinner on time
7) if you offer to walk her home or to her door
8) if you don't close any business deals after two dinners (by the way, this would make you a client tease)
9) if you check your hair, tie, and breath before heading out to dinner
10) if you are always meeting with her for dinner, you're buying more than just a meal!