When a former executive screws up in public, his ex-company usually doesn’t feel the need to go beyond a “he doesn’t work here anymore.” It takes some fairly radioactive behavior to elicit a comment like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers gave today about co-founder Tom Perkins. KPCB was forced into some quick crisis communications after the Wall Street Journal published a letter to the editor from Perkins equating resentment of the wealthy with the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.
KPCB: “Tom Perkins has not been involved in KPCB in years. We were shocked by his views expressed today in the WSJ and do not agree.”
Somewhat inconveniently for KPCB, its website (as of tonight) highlights Perkins as one of its partners emeriti and says, “By continuing their relationship with KPCB long after leaving, they bring our portfolio companies the benefit of decades of deep experience.” It will be interesting to see if that text is still there in a couple weeks.
It’s every CEO’s nightmare – an incident of employee malfeasance threatens to shatter an organization’s reputation and undermine its ability to recruit.
A hat tip to @realdanlyons at HubSpot for flagging a video that turned Australia’s Chief of the Army Lieutenant-General David Morrison into what The Sydney Morning Herald calls an “unlikely feminist hero.”
The Australian Army on Wednesday posted a YouTube video responding to an exploding scandal over officers and other defense force members allegedly producing and distributing explicit emails and photos denigrating women – at a time when the Army is trying to recruit more female soldiers.
What makes the video outstanding isn’t so much the forthright manner of confronting the problem head-on and pledging action, which is good crisis communications practice (see FedEx’s video response after an employee was caught delivering a new computer monitor by throwing it over the fence). Rather, it’s the strength of the personal commitment Morrison makes to change. “I will be ruthless in ridding the army of people who cannot live up to its values,” he says.
His steely delivery leaves no doubt of his seriousness – staring straight into the camera, the guy goes two full minutes without blinking. Morrison delivers a beautifully clear and bold piece of internal communications to his solders: “If you’re not up to it, find something else to do with your life. There is no place for you amongst this band of brothers and sisters.”