Online Reputation Management, CEOs and the Age of Gender Discrimination Litigation
A lawsuit by Ellen Pao’s against the firm Kleiner Perkins which runs a venture capital business clearly indicates how business leaders and even CESs are regarded online in a way that the rest of us really don’t need to be concerned about. Every day, leading public figures are scrutinised in a number of articles, commentary and speculation. Is this a case of them needing active online reputation management? But the scrutiny following a raise or bonus is minor compared to what the players in a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit experience.
For many CEOs, as well as high net worth individuals and philanthropists who give high-profile support to political or social justice issues, every move they take is examined closely on social media. When a CEO is given a raise on top of a multimillion dollar salary, the public evaluates its appropriateness on social media. If the discussion expands to televised programming, it is often an extension of what has been said online. They want to know if the organization he or she heads fairly compensates its employees, has generous benefits or has had mass layoffs recently.
Many people think that online reputation management can magically make Internet content disappear. But prominent, factual information on highly ranked Internet platforms can’t be suppressed. The ocean of reportage and commentary about the Ellen Pao case can’t possibly be managed by either party. But both have impressive assets on the Internet that show all parties are competent, highly educated and well-respected.
Prepare for the possibility of being involved in such as lawsuit by instituting a proactive strategy to build a solid, authentic online image that will contribute to how you are perceived by the public – and your shareholders. In the best circumstances, you will only benefit from it in the court of public opinion and not in a courthouse.
By Shannon Wilkinson the Founder & CEO of Reputation Communications