Calling out, or ‘cancelling’ as it has recently been known, is becoming its own culture. Businesses can no longer hide in the shadows or expect to be involved in sinister dealings without the public getting hold or a story, and dragging it into the spotlight to call out this behavior. Truth and transparency are always the best policy, but how has this culture actually shifted how businesses operate? Let’s take a look.
Public opinion over employee protection
With a rising demand for wrongful dismissal lawyers, businesses are put in an almost impossible position these days, where they have to answer to their employees but also face the music if it’s the employee that has put them in the firing line of the public eye. How they deal with these matters is then being watched by the many millions on social media who are putting in their two cents and demanding accountability from either party.
Sure, this can sometimes be positive when the employee in question is of serious threat to the safety of others. Although what happens in those other instances where the legal route is a grey area, and businesses act out of pressure rather than due diligence?
Let’s review the case of Folau vs. Rugby Australia. When Folau was fired from Rugby Australia, Alan McDonald (lawyer) believes that they might actually be exposed legally and liable for the decision they made.
If the firing followed signaling from Qantas that they would pull their multi-million dollar sponsorship from Rugby Australia if Folau was not removed from the team for his homophobic posts on social media, they would not be acting legally. Employment lawyers, McDonald Murholme, suggested that the rights of the employee were not necessarily represented, or not as important as the interests of their sponsor and their perceived public image.
Not surprisingly, a case was put forward against Rugby Australia following the firing and a settlement reached not long thereafter.
Discrimination is no longer tolerated
The global callout culture is putting businesses in a position where they have to practice what they preach, with any form of discrimination finding its way into a media story causing irreparable damage to a business. Discrimination includes racist, sexist, homophobic, and any comment or behavior that stems from a person’s identity. One such discrimination that still exists but has been called out in recent years is that of pregnant women and working parents.
Rights of pregnant women and working parents exist so that employers can not make an assumption about the work ethic of parents, making a decision to employ another candidate over a parent, or not honoring their rights that allow for basic leniency. These important rights include the right to request flexible hours, how and when to advise the employer of pregnancy, and terms when returning from maternity leave. All employees, even parents, should have equal rights to employment and this is something that is being called out in modern society.
Businesses are looking within
Ok, now that we have covered the worst-case scenarios, we can also look at the positives that businesses have derived from callout culture. In a world where businesses can no longer be silent on some issues, we are actually seeing businesses and brands taking the time to look within and actually identify what their values are and acting accordingly.
The result of this is a truly authentic voice coming from a business and one that has a better chance of attracting their audience when they stand for the same beliefs. Perhaps this is around sustainability, women’s advocacy, ethical production, health or even just supporting local. Businesses cannot be Switzerland as their audience expects more, and they risk being called out if they flip-flop between different viewpoints for the sake of amplifying content.
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We shouldn’t fear callout culture, although we should absolutely give it the respect it deserves in case we make a slip and have to wear that burden in the public sphere. Take the time to align with your business values and beliefs so that you can flag any potential issues that might attract the eyes of the callout culture.