ESG: Best Buy’s CEO in the Dock for Alleged ‘At-Work’ Liaison

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In 2012, Best Buy Chief Executive Brian Dunn was ousted for an inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate. Eight years later, CEO Corie Barry is facing similar allegations.

Current Best Buy CEO Corie Barry allegedly had a romantic relationship with a male colleague before taking over as CEO in June 2019. Best Buy’s board is investigating the charge, made through an anonymous letter dated January 7, according to the WSJ.

Best Buy has hired law firm Sidley Austin LLP to conduct an independent review.

The company’s board has also requested the anonymous tipster to come forward and be a part of the investigation.

Best Buy CEO Barry says will cooperate

Ms. Barry did not comment on the allegations but said: “The Board has my full cooperation and support as it undertakes this review, and I look forward to its resolution in the near term.”

The male friend at the center of the controversy is former Best Buy Senior Vice President Karl Sanft. The relationship between the two allegedly went back many years. Mr Sanft is currently COO at 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Inc.

In 2012, the audit committee found that Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn “violated Company policy by engaging in an extremely close personal relationship with a female employee that negatively impacted the work environment.” Mr Dunn received a $6.6 million severance package. The committee even upbraided Billionaire Best Buy founder Richard Schulze for not notifying the Board immediately of the relationship. Mr Schulze stepped down as chairman in May 2012.

Corporate governance – ESG and ‘S’ocial responsibility

Best Buy said it takes a very serious view of allegations of misconduct.

Companies are now wary of appearing to be lax on governance issues such as sexual harassment, workplace relationships, and pay equality.

Last November, McDonald’s fired CEO Steve Easterbrook for his relationship with a female employee.

Related Story:   CEO Firing: McDonald’s Investigation Commenced Weeks Before                                                

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