It seems like every day a new sexual harassment or assault story is hitting the news out of the entertainment industry, the world of the media, or the political world. The names of celebrities who have been named keep climbing. For the organizations that employed these people or were associated with them the question arises, how should they handle the ensuring crisis. What should their crisis management be?
How an organization responds to such a crisis will have a great impact on its future. They need to think about all stakeholders in their response – employees, shareholders, vendors, and the public. At the same time, they should be conducting an internal audit to determine if any other bombshells about to drop.
When responding to an employee’s sexual misconduct, these are tips that organizations need to implement:
- Get out in front. When scandals such as we have seen since the Weinstein story broke, an organization cannot wait as far as responding to such a story. Delay in responding loses several news cycles and the social media onslaught that arises. It creates the image of complicity with the behavior or worse guilt.
- Show how the company is handling the situation internally. Just condemning despicable and perhaps criminal behavior by an employee is not enough. The organization must show and demonstrate how they are ensuring that such behavior will not occur again by any employee and how they are investigating internally to see if this was an isolated case or if other employees were involved.
- Don’t ignore social media. Social media drives narratives. We have seen this especially in the sexual harassment cases that are dominating the news. Often the stories break on social media first. Make sure that your organization is monitoring social media and if an employee is caught in such a story, that you address the social media world in your responses. Too often this overlooked.
The sexual harassment and assault stories show no signs of abating. Hopefully this will lead to a change in personal conduct. But for businesses, as these allegations continue, it is essential that they know how to address such actions by members of their organization.