What would your organization do if an executive was accused of rape and a reporter asked, “Do you think they did it?”
Stories about sexual harassment and assault by powerful men have taken over the national conversation recently. Similar stories have grabbed attention before, including during the 2016 presidential campaign. But the allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein ignited a storm.
Thousands of women around the world used the #MeToo hashtag – and variations in other languages – to tell stories of abuse. They aimed allegations at men in many industries. Actors’ shows were cancelled, news executives lost their jobs and politicians faced calls to resign.
The victims’ stories are devastating. We feel sympathy for their trauma and damaged careers, and we think about the harm inappropriate behavior causes to our nation.
With the spotlight on exposing dirty secrets, every organization should start thinking about how it would handle allegations against senior leaders or other employees.
As with any crisis, the most important thing is to have a flexible plan and to make sure key players inside the organization know what to do in an emergency. It’s like a first-aid kit for your reputation.
Candor helps organizations prepare for crises. Some important questions we ask include:
- Who is authorized to speak for the company?
- Who holds the keys to the social media accounts?
- Which executives should have media training in advance?
Nobody can anticipate every crisis. But every organization should be ready. Sooner or later, a wave will hit, whether it comes from a natural disaster, workplace accident or from an executive’s misdeeds.
How will you respond?