Within 48 hours of a racist verbal assault by Robert Vigors and Karen Ridge against their indigenous neighbours which went viral on the socials, McDonald’s announced its decision to sever connections with Vigors, citing that his “unacceptable behaviour does not reflect the beliefs of the company”.
McDonald’s response shows that considered, decisive action is not just possible, but necessary & desirable if someone aligned with your brand (contractually or otherwise) breaches your values.
Living your values, as McDonald’s has this week, is (much) less risky if you have systems in place that make clear that where there’s a need for action, that action will be taken. These standards should apply to employees, contractors, franchisees, funding recipients, members and benefactors. Since McDonald’s made its announcement, Express Travel Group has also terminated the membership of Karen Ridge’s company on the basis of her clear transgression of Express Travel’s values.
Ours is an era of discerning consumers. We decide what to consume based on whether it aligns with our values. Organisational culture and reputation are constantly under a public microscope; action speaks louder than jingles, and deer-in-the-headlights-like inaction doesn’t, and shouldn’t, cut it in what’s nearly 2020.
So, what if a Vigors-like crisis happens to your organisation?
First, prevention is better than cure. So:
- Have you done all you can to communicate that you have no tolerance for racism and other forms of discrimination?
- Have you ensured that those linked to and representing your organisation, at every level are aware that your organisation lives its values? and
- If something goes wrong, do you have a response plan that allows you to act to ensure your values aren’t compromised?
If you can say yes to all of the above, you get a golden arches stamp from Lacey & Co for your capacity to take considered, decisive action.
If not, then you need to build ethical, transparent foundations and frameworks that ensure the safety and reputation of your organisation and its people:
- clear, accessible, up to date policies that reflect your values and the law;
- a Code of Conduct and communications that lets anyone associated know what your organisation stands for;
- legally accurate, reflective contracts that give clarity & capacity to act;
- training on how all of the above looks; and
- checklists that help you find your way through to a clear, decisive response if something’s gone wrong.
Lacey & Co commend McDonald’s and Express Travels’ decisions. McDonald’s actions set a benchmark for other Australian businesses on how to respond decisively & swiftly when values are transgressed.
So yes, thank you, this week we will have fries with that (but please don’t tell Lacey’s kids).