Despite Scandals, Organizations Continue to Embrace the Transparency of Social Media

Despite Scandals, Organizations Continue to Embrace the Transparency of Social Media
From Recruiter - October 9, 2017

This past February, former Uber employee Susan J. Fowler wrote a bombshell blog post about sexual harassment at the company. As the post spread around the internet like a wildfire, Uber scrambled to contain the situation with mass firings. Eventually, CEO Travis Kalanick was forced to step down.

In July of this year, Google engineer James Damore wrote an internal memoaccusing Google of pursuing workforce diversity through discriminatory policies. Like Fowlers blog post, Damores memo was shared widely on the internet. It, too, led to a firingin this case, Damores own.

These incidents share much in common: They both hinged on issues of workplace diversity. They both resulted in negative PR for the companies involved. And in both cases, the internetespecially social mediaplayed a starring role in delivering the news to the public.

(There are crucial differences too, of course. Damore was one person, whereas Ubers misconduct was widespread and systemic. Google acted much more quickly to address the situation than Uber did, with the latter still in a period of crisis. Furthermore, some have come to Damores defense in the wake of his firing, whereas youll hear nary a pro-Kalanick sentiment anywhere.)

The Uber and Google affairs both make clear an oft-overlooked repercussion of the social media age for organizations: While social networking sites can be a boon in terms of marketing, recruiting, and engagement, they can also expose the internal workings of a company to a much wider audience, publicizing scandals that, in past times, may have been dealt with more quietly.

Despite this, few organizations feel they should change their views on how employees should utilize social media, according to a Voice of the Workplace survey from the Northern California Human Resources Association(NCHRA)and the employee survey platformWaggl. The survey, which polled more than 20,000 HR professionals, found that only 24 percent of respondents felt their organizations had changed their philosophies on employee social media use in light of recent scandals.

This may be because the benefits of social media far outweigh the negatives, with increased transparency being a particular boon.

In the not-too-distant past, it was possible for organizations to keep a pretty tight hold on anything that was said or written about them, says Waggl CEO Michael Papay. But now, social media makes it possible for each and every employee to express and publish their opinion to a broad audience of peopledirectly and without mediation from corporate communications, investor relations, the legal team, or anyone else. In addition, sites like Glassdoor have encouraged employees to rank their work experiences the same way they would use Yelp to post a restaurant review. This has forced many organizations to become more transparent, whether they wanted to or not.


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