The Public Image of Your Employees Can Make or Break Your Business
Updated: Sep 25, 2020
As a business owner, you could be doing everything right in terms of executing business ideas and managing your staff. But business as a whole has many moving parts and some things are out of your control. Consider for instance, the personal face of your employees. Your employees, no matter where they are, represent your company and its brand. What happens when a bad behavior from one of your employees is made public, and your company is being targeted on all social media platforms? It’s times like these when you need to take control, and make the moves that are best for your company, its morals, and its image or else customers may never trust your brand again.
In this week’s opinion piece, we will explore some incidences of bad behavior, social media, and what companies can do to save their brand.
Disney’s latest live action movie based on the 1998 version of Mulan was set to be released in March 2020, though because of movie theatres closing worldwide due to the coronavirus outbreak. Mulan’s release date was pushed to September 4 on Disney+, at a subscription price of $29.99. However, Mulan only made $35.5 million on opening weekend on Disney+ and its budget was $200 million.
In August, it was made clear that lead actress Liu Yifei supported the Hong Kong police, a blow to the pro-democracy groups of Hong Kongers who are fighting against HK criminal extradition to China. In late 2019 pro-democracy protesters violently clashed with police, with the United Nations condemning the use of police brutality on protesters. Liu’s support for the HK police had led to the hashtag #BoycottMulan with users on social media advocating to not support this movie due to Liu’s political views (it has also been noted that another reason for the boycott is despite a 100% Asian cast, the entire directing team for this movie is Caucasian).
In part by the collective agreement of social media users to boycott Mulan, the movie hasn’t even made a quarter of its budget back. What can you do to prevent such a debacle that would cause your project or company to flop? Though it is not advisable to fire someone for their political affiliation, it is not good for your company’s image to have a high-profile member of your team outwardly support an issue that is unpopular and divisive, especially if it goes against the rights of the common people. You could implement rules that bar your employees from speaking publicly about highly divisive issues to avoid a PR disaster.
On September 12 around 6pm, Korean-American social media influencer Sophia Chang and her sister were dining at Bluewater Grill in Orange County, CA when a Caucasian man allegedly told them to “go back to Wuhan.” Wuhan, China was the source of the coronavirus outbreak in December 2019 and since then, attacks and hate crimes against people of Asian descent have been on the rise worldwide (including non-Chinese Asians). When Chang notified the manager of the establishment, the man claimed to “not speak Chinese” and not understand what Chang was talking about.
Since Chang posted about her racially-charged harassment to her 500K+ followers on Instagram, the man has been identified as James Hilbrant, a financial advisor at Prudential Financial, one of the largest insurance companies in the US. Though his page on the company’s official website has been taken down, it is unclear whether or not his employment has been terminated as the company has yet to announce an official statement regarding Hilbrant. The taking down of Hilbrant’s page may be an indication of his termination. Although Prudential Financial has claimed they are conducting an internal investigation, Chang asserts Prudential has not reached out to her for her official statement regarding the attack.
If your company is under scrutiny by social media denizens due to bad behavior from an identified employee, it may be best to fire said employee or else you may face negative PR and a loss of customers.
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