I recently came across a post that I failed to publish many months ago. The news story is a dated now, but the point remains the same:
I talk with clients about looking at what they do and how they do it, not just what they say. You never want an employment or compliance policy accompanied by a “wink-and-nod.” Consistency is important, just like in parenting because it is not enough to say, “I really mean it.”
There was a recent story that displays that point. You may have seen it: The Houston Astros had a “Ladies’ Night” fan promotion with a Baseball 101 talk, “Diamonds and Bling” music, and the chance for makeovers as a part of coming to a game. There was an outcry over the condescending way the event was promoted. Here’s one account: http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/houston-astros-botch-ladies-night-offend-women-daily-buzz-092513.
Here is the part that struck me, and it’s not unique to a single site that carried the story: Along with the story about how the event was offensive to women, several of the sites had even more questionable content in and around the article and in advertising bars. Just for instance, in the column next the the story above, there was a photo for “Fox Sports Girl of the Week: Kendall” and embedded within the text of the story is “WHO SETS THE CURVE? Check out the FOXiest fans from stadiums across the country and tweet us your photo.” Bravo. What kind of message did all of the verbiage (and images) around that story send? Don’t get me wrong; I know there are other issues at play–readership, advertising dollars, etc. Nothing is simple.
But next time you roll out a new policy, have staff training, or educate on an HR issue, make sure to consider the other messages you are sending in the context of your presentation. It may be that the message is lost in the noise of how it is packaged, who is presenting, or the way you operate.