As a management consultant and strategist, I know that business can be sometimes be rough and tumble. But, it never has to be dishonest and devious. If we take a moment to recall recent business headlines over the past few years, we will quickly recognize just how underhandedly some businesses have chosen to operate.
Here are a few that come to mind (many of them I've written about in this column):
- Uber: CEO Dara Khosrowshahi admits that he knew about a data breach that put 57 million Uber customer's personal and financial information at risk for months before he took the initiative to notify affected customers.
- American Airlines: The NAACP Issues National Travel Advisory for American Airlines suggesting a corporate culture of racial insensitivity
- Mylan: For price gouging consumers of its life-saving drug / delivery system - the EpiPen.
- Unilever: Apologizing for its tone deaf flub, when it chose to run a Dove Soap ad on its U.S. Facebook page, that showed a black woman turning white
- Equifax: For jeopardizing the credit of nearly 40% of the American population
- Wells-Fargo: For its practice of setting up millions of fraudulent accounts to meet internal sales goals
- Volkswagen: They admit to have installed secret software in 11 million cars that enable them to defeat pollution emission standards.
- General Motors: For hiding safety issues that put customers in peril.
And, of course, let's not forget headlines from the last two weeks that featured apologies from:
Facebook: For spreading Russian propaganda during the 2016 election campaign
Starbucks: For calling police on two African-American men who asked to use the restroom.
AT&T: For making a $600,000 payment to Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, in exchange for political influence.
I don't know about you, but, I've had enough!
Shouldn't we expect better from corporate leaders? People with names like, Stephenson (AT&T), Khosrowshahi (Uber), Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Bresch (Mylan) certainly know better. And, I would wager, that they all recognize that their ability to lead their organizations is compromised because of these headlines. After all, who would willingly follow someone that enables corporate cultures, like the ones referenced here, to flourish? Not many!
Nevertheless, it does make me wonder if we would be getting any of these public admissions of guilt and apologies had these stories not been exposed? Probably not...and, that means these apologies are insincere.
To close, corporate leaders can keep their apologies to themselves. We don't need to hear them anymore. We know that when you get caught and exposed, that you're very sorry. So, no need to apologize.
Instead, take the energy that you're expending in managing spin and apply it to fixing the cultures that underpin your companies. If you need some assistance; Reach-out. There are people, like me, who have dedicated their entire careers to assisting senior leadership teams' right their respective ships. We can help.