In the age of #CancelledCulture, what are you doing to safeguard your #employerbrand?

A few weeks ago, I was in an #Uber with two friends when a familiar beat played low in the background. As I started to sway my head in anticipation for the chorus to 'Man in the Mirror', my friend in the front seat abruptly changed the station. I was quickly reminded that the song I’ve always enjoyed was much more than the man in the mirror, but instead the focus has shifted to the man behind the song. Ironic.


My friend cancelled MJ and moved on to #Creed’s “with arms wide open” thumper. Hmm that was a choice…


If you’ve been off-the-grid or just busy with your routine - you might have missed the cancelled culture welcome party. #CancelledCulture/ culture of cancel/ call-out culture is a “modern internet phenomenon where a person is ejected from influence or fame by questionable actions. It is caused by a critical mass of people who are quick to judge and slow to question. It is commonly caused by an accusation, whether that accusation has merit or not. It is a direct result of the ignorance of people caused communication technologies outpacing the growth in available knowledge of a person.” #NYTimes.


The driver stopped where his phone indicated our drop-off, he was paid instantly through the Uber mobile app, and we walked into the party based off the #Facebook event details. Our Uber driver sped away as quick as the radio station had been changed.


Unraveling the idea of how quick and unforgiving cancelled culture is and how important perception is in today’s #digital world - I started to wonder, what does this mean in the #business world? Specifically, what are companies doing to safeguard their employer brand from cancelled culture?


Employers have the opportunity to control the narrative. When building personal and employer brands, I always lean on 3 specific questions to help understand and #design a story.

  1. Where did you come from?

  2. Where are you now?

  3. Where do you want to go?


An effective employer brand prioritizes company #culture, #community perception, and has a well-defined company vision and mission.


When it comes to company culture try to think of this as curating culture. Relatability is key when building culture, so ensure you are sharing real stories of real faces and real voices. These are the people that make up your organization. Afterall, they are your brand, so show them off!


If community perception isn't at the top of your agenda - be afraid, be very (very) afraid. For example, think of the #Peloton backlash. This recently brought cancelled culture to the main stage and showed how powerful and quick it can impact a business. Would you rather spend time and resources in advance to protect your reputation, or is the triage of a wounded brand more appealing?


https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/business/peloton-bike-ad-stock.html


Lastly, an employer’s vision and mission are based on shared values across all of the people that build the brand. The vision and mission should be relatable, #inspirational, and create a sense of community. Intentional communication is key!


Okay - so, now what? What can be done to protect this employer brand you have invested resources and time in? Drum roll…


Put thought around creating a Digital Media Empathy Rating Team. What in the world is this and how does it work?


This is a #diverse team assembled to critique digital media content and ensure different perspectives are considered. Many employers require sensitivity #training, encourage D&I initiatives, and focus on building a welcoming environment...well, this is the action of ensuring people within your organization insert empathy when creating, reviewing, and delivering all digital media content.  Remember community perception should be a priority!


Let’s revisit the Peloton example. Imagine if the commercial was slightly edited. Instead of the husband surprising his wife with a Peloton, imagine if time was spent in the opening of the commercial where the husband discovered his wife was shopping for a Peloton. Browse history/ wishlist/ screen grab -- you name it! In response, he then felt inspired to gift her with one. This could have prevented some of the backlash the company received.


Keep in mind a Digital Media Empathy Rating Team isn't a stand alone solution, but striving to include diverse perspectives when pushing content will reflect directly in a positive and lasting reputation. After all, wouldn't you agree it's better to be received with arms wide open?

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