The CEO of Chik-Fil-A says what he said, it hits the internet, and within minutes, the gay community and its allies have their protests and boycotts in action.
The CEO of Barilla pasta says that gay people can go eat some other pasta, it hits the internet, and within minutes, the gay community and their allies start eating other pasta. The company must have noticed since the guy eventually apologised. But boy, that was fast.
The CEO of Mozilla was found to have made a donation to a group working against gay rights, it hit the internet, people were upset. OKCupid put up a special page only Firefox users would see asking them to stop using Firefox. After about 2 weeks on the job, the CEO of Mozilla resigned. That was fast.
Hobby Lobby is fighting hard to not have to pay for contraception for its employees. And evidently they don’t believe in holidays that Jesus celebrated like Hanukkah. Woman and Jewish people are pretty mad at Hobby Lobby right now, and they are mobilising.
Conservatives rushed to back some seditionist rancher who owes the government money. They backed him even when he was filmed saying he doesn’t believe the US Government exists (treason?). But when he declared that “the Negro” was better under slavery, now a few people are looking to step away for fear of association.
I imagine 50 years ago, if a businessman donated money to a certain political party or to try to get a bill passed, who knows who might ever know about that. 50 years ago, we didn’t know most of the moves our politicians, celebrities, or CEOs made. Once upon a time, “important” people got arrested for stuff, and people either didn’t know or didn’t bother caring.
But today, the speed at which truth (and fiction) travel around the internet means there is less room for mistakes than ever before. One false tweet can get your company boycotted.
And look at this maniac, the “tech CEO” that beat his girlfriend and got off with community service. Within a few days of that news hitting the internet, some of his biggest customers are looking to disconnect from his company. I wonder if his company will still IPO in the wake of all of this. Who will want to invest in a company whose CEO is a girlfriend-beater, causing big clients to consider leaving? Now his Board is wondering if they should try to remove him, especially since this convicted criminal has taken to Twitter to say he’s innocent… even though it was all caught on tape. Distorted reality.
It also means that personal choices and leanings can and will affect your business.
It means that you can lose business by what you are personally affiliated with. I’d say “guilt by association” but you can’t be guilty of something you chose to do because it matched your beliefs. If you donated to a group that fights gay rights, you probably felt really good about that choice. I guess it’s more of an overlapping of personal and business in ways people who flap their lips obviously didn’t see coming.
Now maybe I’m not reading the “right” news feed, but I don’t see any businesses bleeding customers or having CEO’s apologise or step down after being found to be associated with a liberal or Democratic set of beliefs or agendas. The ones I see leaning liberal and being for gay rights seem to be enjoying the press and success it brings them. I didn’t see any CEO apologise for a graham cracker commercial showing a gay couple. I don’t remember IKEA shutting stores after ads showing gay couples. Disney is a great supporter of gay rights. Is anybody bothering to try and boycott Disney? If you have kids, good luck boycotting Disney.
All in all, this means we all have to think a bit more before we say or post anything publicly about our personal world. There is no longer a separation of business and personal. Nobody is interviewing an openly racist for a job and deciding that he’ll be OK because his personal beliefs shouldn’t affect his job. Before you create a PR nightmare for your company (as CEO or any level of worker), think about how what you say or post could be on the internet forever with your name on it… and then possibly affecting your company. Who will want to hire the guy who publicly says or posts crap that makes his company look bad.