Today’s guest blog was penned by Peppercomm’s Ann Barlow who weighs in a yet another atrocious crisis courtesy of the airline with the least friendly skies imaginable….
On Tuesday, we learned about the poor dog that died onboard one United flight when it was consigned to the overhead bin, and then the next day about another that went to Japan instead of Kansas (anyone could make that mistake). Like many of you, we at Peppercomm shook our heads at the level of callousness that CEO Oscar Munoz seems content to foster, and wondered at the tatters that United’s reputation has been left in following yet another set of senseless actions.
Then my colleague Matt Purdue asked the question: Does it really matter? He pointed out that United’s stock has not suffered despite all of the well-publicized treatment the airline has visited on its paying passengers. And, maybe worse, when we spot a $30 savings on Kayak with United over another carrier, how many of us blithely put our principles aside to save a few bucks?
The notion that bad behavior comes with no consequences horrifies me. Are we really in an age where we are so weary of, so numbed by, people treating one another with such contempt or compromising any ethics in the name of financial gain, that we shake our heads and move on? My colleagues and friends talk about feeling angry but frustrated by a sense of powerless to do anything. Understandable to be sure. For me, it’s more that stories of scandals and misconduct are coming at us so rapidly that it’s hard to remember who’s done what, when.
But I have hope. At Peppercomm, we’ve actually created an updated version of our crisis program because like never before, employees are calling on their company leadership to take a stand on the day’s most important issues. No longer are they content to let their employers remain neutral on things like DACA and #MeToo and gun control and the environment. And no longer are they willing to stand by and watch their leadership consistently put profit above principles. Like never before, companies will need to operate with purpose and walk away from actions and policies that don’t fit that purpose.
Matt is probably right in the short term. But based on what we are seeing, not only at Peppercomm but on social media and on our streets, as weary and busy as people are, we are only willing to take so much.
Mr. Munoz, perhaps you’re safe for now. But sooner or later, your employees and your customers are going to say: enough.
It used to be that everyone who has flown United has a bad experience to share and now that is being extended to pet owners. Crazy. When I fly I try and walk/stand a fair amount and often do so near the back where the staff congregates. The one change that I have seen and heard discussed is that since Munoz took over, United staff has a much more positive opinion of him and working at the company than they had previously. United used to constantly have employee and union problems which depressed the stock price. These have been cleaned up and could explain why the stock price remains stable despite the constant public relations crisis. I wonder how much higher the stock would be if they treated people and pets better. This behavior might still be costing them.
“The notion that bad behavior comes with no consequences horrifies me. Are we really in an age where we are so weary of, so numbed by, people treating one another with such contempt or compromising any ethics in the name of financial gain, that we shake our heads and move on?”
Can I assume you meant to state that without mentioning the obvious swamp 250 miles south of NYC, our coarseness of dialogue, and of course HIM? Because if nothing else, the last 18 months have proved there are millions of people who don’t care one whit about ethics, reputation or doing the right thing if they think it will benefit them. I try not to be cynical and admire what you’re saying, but this is pushing the rock uphill right now.
Mr. Munoz and his advisers think it’ll blow over with the next outrage, which now comes ever 12 hours. Sadly, they are right.