You can’t please everyone.
When you’re making tough calls about how to handle a sticky situation, there’ll always be someone criticizing your actions. Same goes for happier decisions like which flavor of birthday cake to serve.
When a counselor at a summer camp was accused of inappropriately touching a child, he was assigned to administrative duties pending the outcome of an investigation. Critics weren’t satisfied and complained that the counselor should’ve been fired immediately. But if the camp had done that and the allegations later proved false, the camp would’ve been criticized for wrongfully terminating the counselor and could’ve been liable for damages.
A non-profit shuttered its doors after the face of the organization was linked to criminal behavior. As an act of good faith to the community it served, the Board vetted a similar organization and worked diligently to make the transition as seamless as possible. Nonetheless, critics were displeased with the Board for not ousting the Executive Director immediately.
Then there’s the issue of vacillating versus sticking by your actions.
Lands’ End, Old Navy, and Target shared similar problems and took very different paths.
When Lands’ End published an interview with Gloria Steinem in its catalog, those who objected to her views on women’s rights and abortion threatened to boycott. Lands’ End buckled and issued an apology — which caused Steinem’s supporters to stage their own boycott.
When Old Navy ran an ad featuring an interracial family, it set off howls of indignation and racist comments on social media. But Old Navy refused to back down and defended the ad. Feedback from consumers was overwhelmingly positive, and the dust-up barely registered as a blip in sales.
Now Target is in the hot seat for its decision to accommodate transgender individuals’ right to choose which bathroom to use in its stores — the latest battlefront in the culture wars. In the blink of an eye after Target’s announcement, opponents of the action were threatening a nationwide boycott, while supporters cheered it. How Target reacts will determine whether it impacts sales, by how much and for how long.
What Target needs to avoid is being perceived as wishy-washy. If they are, they’ll suffer the same fate as Lands’ End and alienate everyone.
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