Best Buy CEO faces alleged misconduct probe
Best Buy Co.’s board is investigating allegations that CEO Corie Barry had an inappropriate romantic relationship with a former fellow executive.
The allegations were sent to the board in an anonymous letter dated December 7. The letter claims Ms. Barry had a romantic relationship for years with Karl Sanft, who’s last position at Best Buy was leading U.S. retail store operations, before she took over as CEO last June. The allegations were first reported Friday by The Wall Street Journal.
“Best Buy takes allegations of misconduct very seriously,” Best Buy said in a media statement. The company has retained outside counsel to conduct an independent review.
The letter, which was also sent to the Journal, The Minneapolis Star Tribune and other news organizations, was signed by “We are Best Buy” and indicated the party represents “a group of employees” across several states. The group called for Ms. Barry to resign or be fired. Best Buy called for the group’s authors to “come forward” to help with the investigation on a confidential basis.
Ms. Barry replaced Hubert Joly, who led the electronics retailer’s turnaround and remains executive chairman. Mr. Joly joined Best Buy in 2012 after the previous CEO, Brian Dunn, resigned over a personal relationship with a younger female employee.
The #MeToo era has brought new scrutiny to a wide range of workplace misconduct, ranging from discrimination to sexual harassment, assault and inappropriate relationships between executives and subordinates. In November, McDonald’s fired its CEO for violating company policy over a consensual relationship with an employee.
A difference in the Best Buy situation is that Mr. Sanft, who left his position in March to become COO of 24 Hour Fitness, was at one point a boss of Ms. Barry. The investigation of Best Buy’s first female CEO will also be taking place in the public eye.
Ms. Barry, who is married with two children, said in a statement: “The Board has my full cooperation and support as it undertakes this review, and I look forward to its resolution in the near term.”
- Best Buy Opens Probe Into CEO’s Personal Conduct – The Wall Street Journal
- Best Buy board investigating CEO Corie Barry for alleged misconduct – CNBC
- Best Buy board investigates CEO Barry over allegation of inappropriate relationship – Minneapolis Star Tribune
- Best Buy says it’s investigating ‘personal conduct’ of CEO Corie Barry – Bloomberg/Dallas Morning News
- Best Buy opens investigation into allegations of misconduct by CEO – CNN
- Should McDonald’s CEO have been fired over a ‘consensual relationship’? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How should retail businesses govern personal relationships between coworkers, particularly those that include individuals in management? Do you think Corie Barry can still effectively lead Best Buy in light of the allegations made against her?