500 Words — Day Thirty-Four: Corporate Pandering
I can’t say I’m really a fan of the monolithic corporation. At some point in time at a certain size, there’s a disconnect that happens between leadership and the people that make things happen. And when that happens, you can run into the situation where a company’s culture is completely inauthentic. There maybe a lot of surface level talk but there’s nothing to ever show for that talk. Essentially this talk serves as front to the outside world of a company’s virtue and excellence when there is nothing there. And boy does it bother me when folks will parrot these points but never do anything meaningful to back them up.
Talk is cheap. It doesn’t take a lot of resources to do it and people for the most part enjoy doing it. Committing resources to implement actions based on that talking is hard. Coming up with grand visions is easy, getting people to commit and implement that vision is hard. But so often it seems like people want eat their cake without putting in the work to earn it. A company may post on the social media site in support of some pro-people policy or in support of a disadvantaged group. But how expensive was it do that? It might take a couple hours of work and some co-ordination between a social media manager and a graphics designer, but with billions of dollars in revenue in the pipeline that barely could be considered a cost for the amount good will and positivity generated from the post especially if you have a savvy social media manager. How have you helped in the implementation of that policy or in the support of that disadvantaged group?
Maybe you throw money at the problem to show more support. But there’s a massive gap between funding and implementation. The people that you throw money at could suck at implementing the policy you claim to support. Or perhaps do it in an ineffective way that undermines the claim in the first place. Until a corporation can make an effective connection (or in the case of company policies, reconnect) with people they supposedly support, they are simply pandering. Actions speak louder than words. Making actual sacrifices and committing effort towards the policy says so much more than the policy itself. Employees and customers are much more likely to respect leadership that sacrifices to implement corporate policy rather than preach about things they pretend to implement or believe.
Authenticity is something that is sorely missing now. The pressure to conform to certain standards is higher than ever. And there’s a huge benefit to those that conform to it. But pretending to be a good ambassador just adds to the noise of it all. It makes the standard mean less. It undermines the culture and values that are trying to be encouraged. But pretending in the short term feels good and is easy to leverage some easy positivity. But for those that see through the façade, it just leaves a bad taste in our mouths. Because if you’re going to be dishonest about things like this, what else are you being dishonest about?