President Obama at a press conference in Hawaii referring to a question about the scandal at Penn State made the observation that protecting the innocent was more important than shielding institutions or organizations. I took in the premise and then looked at the daily RSS feed I receive from the EEOC and began to question the strategic moves many corporations are making in the marketplace.
I totally understand that as an organization you have a brand that you need to protect but when your managers are making stupid mistakes and are circling the wagons instead of taking the right path to resolve issues in the marketplace, you begin to wonder why organizations can complain about the lack of engagement and then provide the proof in their actions.
Since August 26, 2011 the EEOC RRS feed is reporting nearly 200 settled complaints or new actions regarding situations where an employee has a legal right to complain about working conditions and the organizational response is how difficult can we make their lives to the point of having them leave the company. Maintain the brand at all costs and the heck with supporting the individual who is being harassed or discriminated against.
Consider the case of an acute care facility in California who will pay $530,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging the sexual harassment of its staff. According to the federal agency, several of the female targets of the harassment were either retaliated against or compelled to quit after their complaints were ignored by hospital management.Is the brand that important that you tolerate a workplace where you demean the employee base. That is an attitude from an era way gone from reasonable in today's workplace.
Look at your list of the best places to work or the companies founded on the principles of the Toyota Production System and they recognize the worth of employees to the organization. Look at the organizations being hit by the EEOC and you see organizations with the attitudes that we are doing the employee a favor by allowing them to work here and they need to take what ever conditions we want to expose them to.
In the 21st Century this is not how we encourage engagement. This is not how we encourage employee loyalty. This how we tell our employees that they are chattel, not valuable parts of our organization. So if you must circle the wagons, do so around the worth of all parties. Protect the organizational brand by telling the world that you value the employee and their contributions to the brand.