The Murdoch Mistake

As an HR bod I love it when an employer stands by an employee even when they’ve made a mistake.

I was working with a larger corporate a few years ago when a situation came to light.  One of the marketing team authorised a million pound sponsorship deal to put the company’s name on the side of a racing car…

The problem was, a week before, the very high profile chairman of the company had said that he would never, ever in a million years be associated with advertising that promoted the use of tobacco.

The co-sponsor of the racing team?

A very well-known tobacco company.

The upshot was our sponsorship was pulled and we still had to pay the million pounds.

I heard the HR director ask the Chief Exec whether she was going to fire the person who had made the mistake (who was feeling pretty low, as you can imagine).  The response was brilliant: ‘I certainly am not!  That guy has just had a one million pound learning experience and I’m damned if I’m going to give one of our rivals the benefit of it!’

The logic and clarity of the CEO’s thinking, in my opinion, was brilliant.  However, there can be a time when it goes too far.

Rupert Murdoch, who has flown into the UK to deal with the ‘phone hacking scandal, was asked what his top priority was.  He responded, ‘She is’ (or words to that effect), indicating Rebekah Brooks.

Cut, then, to a picture of Milly Dowler’s parents, who have been through so much, looking careworn and weary.

Surely Rupert Murdoch’s top priority should be to find the truth and deal with the situation when the truth has been unearthed.  His response seems to say that he doesn’t care about what actually happened as long as Rebekah Brooks is protected, which is just plainly, simply, morally wrong.

Of course, it has to be said, Rebekah Brooks is innocent until proven otherwise, but so are all those people who have lost their jobs at the News of the World, which has been sacrificed in an attempt to salvage wider business aspirations.  Let’s hope the investigation can start before too many documents are shredded.

I have to say that I am beginning to fear for the UK.  There’s a book, written by Peter Senge, called The Fifth Discipline which essentially says that five things are needed for major change or upheaval.

The politicians’ expenses scandal, the economic disaster, the coalition government (or, to put it another way, the election that everyone lost), this ‘phone hacking scandal are 4 BIG things.

What will the fifth be?  And what upheaval will it presage?  And what will be the consequences?

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