A few days ago, a close family friend said he was struggling with his job and employer.
He was scheduled to go on an international trip with another employee.
Coincidentally, his company organized a party before this trip. Lots of liquor was involved, and all had a good time until our friend witnessed a coworker launch into a public homophobic rant. Of course, this coworker was the one he was about to travel with.
Our friend was horrified.
First, he was horrified that this individual publicly raged about LGBQT people.
Second, he was horrified that his bosses seemingly did nothing at the time.
He seriously considered cancelling this international trip because he worried about what might happen if he were in close quarters with this impolite, undignified, and not-a-very-nice person.
But deep down, he began to wonder about his employment with this company.
His bosses did not stand up for the values they espoused as a company. This company had invested a lot of time and energy in positioning itself as an ally and friend of LGBQT people. They ‘proudly’ branded themselves with rainbow Flags and advertised their building as a welcoming, safe place.
This created quite a dilemma for our friend.
He became increasingly upset and angry that his employers had allowed a chasm of space to open between their values and actions.
I am sure the employers were trying to figure out how to respond to this person’s homophobia. Still, their lack of action created an environment where people weren’t sure if they could trust their employers to act appropriately or the values they so publicly stated.
It took a couple of weeks, and in the end, they terminated the employee who made the comments.
In time, we will learn if there were any long-lasting impacts on the organizational health of that company or my friend’s satisfaction with working there.
But I suspect that some irreparable damage has been done.
As leaders, we need to be cautious about not creating expectations that may be hard to live up to.
This is a cautionary tale to all of us that people are always watching us and judging whether or not we live up to our values.