'God Intended' Pregnancy After Rape, Says Romney's Candidate

One day after a television ad featuring GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s endorsement of him began to air, Indiana U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock publicly said that when a woman becomes pregnant after a rape, “that’s something God intended.”


This puts Romney in a now-familiar bindneeding to do damage control after one of his allies goes public with a statement that many people find offensive. (The first was the Todd Akin comment that women who are raped rarely get pregnant.) It’s a situation corporate leaders also have faced, and it can impact everything from share price to employee engagement.

Here’s what happened this time. At a debate Tuesday night, when asked about whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest, Mourdock said: “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Social-media response was immediate and unforgiving. Romney’s campaign had to act quickly, since this pronouncement came so soon after Romney’s ad supporting Mourdock.

“There’s so much at stake. I hope you’ll join me in supporting Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate,” Romney says in the spot, paid for by the Mourdock campaign.

After Mourdock’s comment, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul issued a terse statement saying Mourdock’s comments “do not reflect” Romney’s views. But the Romney campaign has not yet pulled the ad. Watch it below.

Corporate Lessons

In 1996, when Texaco executives were caught on tape making racist remarks, the company’s stock price plummeted by double digits in one day, it had to pay $140 million in a discrimination lawsuitand its reputation has never recovered.

More recently, documents in another discrimination lawsuit reveal that the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch demands that his all-male flight crew wears boxer briefs, A&F cologne and flip-flops.

What’s most important for corporate leaders facing public furor over potentially offensive actions and statements is clarity of values, from the start, and clear and constant communications about those values.

So first, always be very transparent about your values of respect and inclusivity. Look at this quote from Steve Howe, area managing partner Americas, Ernst & Young (No. 5 on The 2012 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) as an example:

“I can tell you that we truly do believe that inclusiveness is critical. It’s critical to us performing at a consistent, exceptional level all around the globe. It makes us better, more insightful; it helps us solve problems, manage risk and seize opportunities that much better. And we believe that driving multicultural teams is an absolute must.”

Second, act quickly and decisively and disassociate your organization and your leadership from what has been said/done.

Corporate advertisers have quickly dropped organizations and individuals who have made racist, homophobic or otherwise discriminatory statements. Earlier this year, advertisers bailed on Rush Limbaugh‘s radio show after he called a female student a “slut” and “prostitute” for advocating women’s reproductive rights. And when ABC came under fire for a television show that offended Latinos, lesbians and transgender people, it quickly dropped the program.

Governor Romney quickly went public to say he disagreed with Mourdock’s statement, but his ad is still running. We will keep you updated if that changes.

Barbara Frankel

Latest News

hiring

Companies Hiring Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Filings for unemployment insurance have risen to an unprecedented 2.3 million due to the COVID-19 crisis. Less than two weeks ago, that number was at 281,000 — which was already alarmingly close to the 299,000 previous record in 2017. Though unemployment rates have surged more than eight times the country’s…

Combatting Human Trafficking: How Hilton and Marriott Address a Global Human Rights Issue

It is estimated that anywhere from 20 to 40 million people are trapped in modern slavery worldwide. The fragmented, transient and relatively anonymous nature of hotels has made them critical sites for the trafficking of humans — typically for forced labor or sexual exploitation. But the hospitality industry has taken…

Dow Commits $3 million to Aid COVID-19 Relief Efforts and Adjusts Manufacturing Processes to Produce Hand Sanitizer

Originally posted on Dow.com Dow announced a commitment of $3 million to help fund COVID-19 relief efforts with donations going towards global relief organizations, as well as non-profits in communities where Dow operates. In addition, the Company announced it has begun producing hand sanitizer at its manufacturing site in Stade, Germany, and…

EY COVID-19 Business Continuity Plan: Five Ways to Reshape

Originally posted on EY LinkedIn and  EY.com  EY Responding to COVID-19 COVID-19 is an unfolding event bringing uncertainty to every business. To help you navigate through these unprecedented times, here you’ll find the most relevant EY insights on responding to volatility and building enterprise resilience. Global companies have to be predictive…

Cox Commits up to $5M for COVID-19 Testing

Originally posted on Cox.com The James M. Cox Foundation announced its commitment to provide up to $5 million to Emory Healthcare for purchasing COVID-19 testing equipment. In response to the coronavirus crisis, Emory and Cox are taking the lead with significant action to support the community. The equipment is currently…

What You Need to Know About How Johnson & Johnson’s Supply Chain Is Responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic

The company’s Chief Global Supply Chain Officer shares the measures the company has taken to maintain its supply chain operations during the current novel coronavirus outbreak. Originally published on jnj.com. The effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic are undeniable. Kathy Wengel, Executive Vice President & Chief Global Supply Chain Officer,…