Monday, November 11, 2013

The REAL Issue With That Racially Offensive Home Depot Tweet

Last week, everybody was up in arms about a racially insensitive tweet that Home Depot posted from their company account.   

Take a look: 

Pretty offensive, right?  Yep.  There's no need for me to go into details about WHY it's offensive. If you don't know, I honestly don't have the time or energy to break it down for you.  But take it from me - a reasonable, rational, super nice, liberal black woman with a great smile - It. Is Offensive.  

OK-enough about me...  

So, listen.  I like Home Depot (told you I was nice).  I shop there often and when I purchased my new home five years ago, I visited their store 4-5 times a week for months.  I was there so much the staff knew me by name!   

From a PR perspective, I commend Home Depot for taking swift action after this tweet was posted. They acknowledged it was wrong, stated their zero tolerance policy for things like this and terminated the agency and employee who were responsible for the post. They're also reviewing their social media policy so that incidents like this won't happen again.    

But here's the real issue with that tweet.  It shows first-hand the lack of racial diversity among employees in major corporations and national advertising agencies in this country. In other words - I can almost guarantee you, there were no African Americans in those initial meetings about the content of this post. That tweet was posted by someone who didn't know any better and/or someone who has had little to no racial sensitivity training. Either way, it's bad. 

I'd like to think if there was an African American employee working on this project and someone suggested this terrible tweet, that employee would have paused and said, "Wait. A monkey and black men?  Hell no."  Crisis averted. 

Companies aren't perfect. What happened with Home Depot could have happened to any Fortune 500 company in America.  But if corporations want to continue to grow and prosper, they should have a diverse and inclusive employee base - from the board room to the mail room.  Why? Diversity breeds a culture of fresh creativity and innovation.  It allows people from various backgrounds to contribute to the success of the business.  

If companies don't embrace diversity and understand the importance of cultural sensitivity, we'll continue to see these kinds of public mishaps and crude blunders.  

Note: Diversity = Attributes such as gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, physical ability, age, etc. 


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