There are times I really shake my head at some businesses and what they try to roll out as “good policy” to consumers. I had one of these moments recently with the H&M fiasco regarding shredding clothing that doesn’t sell versus finding a better way to remove inventory.
This situation hits a number of important issues where communicators should have stepped forward to raise questions that could have improved the situation.
- Ethical Inquiries- O.k. this could be raised to anyone in leadership frankly. Common sense says that destroying clothing while so many are in need is a waste. At a bare minimum, I hold communicators to a higher standard in at least thinking about this perception if nothing else. Why didn’t anyone raise this issue internally? Too scared of internal arguments or do they just really not care.
- Policy Issues- If you have to write a two-page explanation justifying your corporate viewpoint, there’s probably something wrong.
- Leading the Culture- As communicators, wheat we say publicly has a major impact on how a culture operates internally. Trainwrecks like this H&M incident have a very real impact on everyone associated with the company. If your public communications appear phony, you’re hurting the reputation of every employee in that company. Not a great long-term retention tool is it?
I think most communicators have a good sense of judgment and should understand how audiences will view and evaluate these types of problems. Let’s collectively step-up and put our skills in understanding audiences, and some common sense, to good use.