The 4 Critical Steps Every Brand Must Take When Facing Internal Scandal

The #MeToo movement continues to pressure companies to accelerate their efforts when it comes to addressing internal misconduct levied against women. With this new emphasis on corporate accountability, a growing list of fashion firms are finding themselves navigating internal scandal in a public forum — Nike, Lululemon and Guess are all recent examples.

For Nike, it was back-to-back executive departures in March, which reportedly came after female employees circulated an internal survey about their concerns there. Lululemon announced in February the abrupt resignation of CEO Laurent Potdevin, stating he fell short of the firm’s standards of conduct as reports emerged he had a relationship with a female designer whom he oversaw. Similarly, Guess co-founder Paul Marciano in February stepped down from his post mere weeks after supermodel Kate Upton alleged the designer sexually harassed her.

In addition to remedying these challenges for their employees and internal stakeholders, companies must also take appropriate steps to stay in the good graces of the general public.

Here, Sol Marketing CEO Deb Gabor offers four effective crisis communication tips for companies navigating internal scandal in a public forum.

Take accountability

“First, you admit wrongdoing and take responsibility for your actions and take accountability for them.”

Show Regard for Humanity

“Acknowledge: ‘We hurt people. People were emotionally, physically and mentally injured by whatever [transpired]. We care about our own, and any action we take is because we care about humanity.’”

State Your Plan

“Say publicly, ‘We’re undergoing a complete investigation. Here’s when we will communicate back to you, here’s our promise to you as an organization.”

Conduct the Investigation

“After you’ve conducted a thorough investigation, determine what you’re going to share [publicly. Most importantly], make sure that throughout the entire process, you’re constantly renewing your commitment to deliver on your promises [and identity] as a brand.”

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