Companies with conviction… and limits
I’m a strong advocate of companies that have strong stances on social and political issues.
If you’re a prominent company and take the old-school approach of being neutral about everything so you don’t offend your customers, that neutrality will eventually be put to the test. If you can navigate that test with conviction that shows you truly stand for something, you’ll come out of it looking a lot stronger than if you try to please everyone.
Just look at how silly Virgin Trains looked when it removed, and then reinstated
, sales of the Daily Mail newspaper to the shops on its services. These flip-flops can look like you’re listening to the public’s concerns, but they risk you looking like you never really knew what to do in the first place.
So, a social, political, and moral compass is important for businesses in the 21st century.
Still, there are times when it’s best just to not get involved at all.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey walked into a storm this week when he (apparently accidentally) appeared to show his support for a movement calling for an end to India’s caste system of social hierarchy.
BuzzFeed News has all the details
, so I won’t repeat them all, but essentially Dorsey ended up causing a storm in India over the poster he posed in a photo with, which some took to be hate speech.
Twitter has explained the situation was unintentional, but Dorsey still managed to first offend people who thought the sign was hate speech, then when he apologised he offended people who supported the sign – all while not really understanding too well the deep cultural roots of the issue at hand.
Oh, and the fact that Twitter has a problem with inter-caste abuse in India (which Dorsey didn’t really seem to know about) doesn’t help either.
So, companies should have conviction and stand for something, but also be aware when it’s best to leave well alone. And never, ever hold up a poster you don’t understand.