Diversity Crisis Communications: What to Do When Scandals Erupt

The Rutgers crisis is a lesson in the need for swift action and forthright communications when discriminatory scandals occur.

How your company handles a diversity-related crisis can make the difference between whether your leadership stays or goes and whether the public loses faith in your organization (causing plummeting stock price, for example). Here are examples of bad and good ways to handle the type of scandal Rutgers University now faces:


Did Komen’s Lack of Board Diversity Cause Its Crisis?
The nonprofit breast-cancer-prevention group decided to defund Planned Parenthood, then flip-flopped after public outrage. Its CEO ended up resigning.

Lowe’s Muslim Publicity Gaffe Serves as Case Study of What Not to Do
The home-improvement chain caved in to an anti-Muslim group and stopped advertising on a reality show featuring Muslims. The public outcry was significant.

Chick-fil-A Caves on Funding Anti-Gay Groups But Is It Enough?
The flip-flops from the food chain have cost it several contracts and public support.


Lessons on Values From Ellen & jcpenney
jcpenney CEO Ron Johnson stood up quickly and very publicly for the choice of lesbian Ellen DeGeneres as company spokesperson after anti-gay One Million Moms launched a campaign to have her removed.

Ask the White Guy: Decision Making, Clarity of Values & What to Do When It Goes Horribly Wrong
When progressive corporations found out their local representatives in Tennessee supported anti-gay legislation, they were horrified and reacted swiftly to try to reverse the decision. It was too late, but their public statements were forthright and they have subsequently made sure this won’t happen again.

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