I don’t wanna know…

Some years ago, I learned of a trick practiced by (some) senior HR leaders at corporate events (eg. holiday parties, retreats, etc.): they’d leave early, so they didn’t have to deal with the actual debauchery displayed by some employees who get too loose after a few free drinks. Instead, they’d wait until the morning to manage the fallout.

I have about as much information as anyone else reading the media reports of the current mess at the CBC when it comes to Jian Ghomeshi; not much, but probably too much at that. And of course, as a proud booster of public broadcasting (my husband and I give money every month to the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, an organization committed to keeping our public broadcaster fully funded AND public), I’m outraged by what I’m learning. But instead of piling on to Ghomeshi, who’s disappointed me personally – as a regular listener I immediately ran to his defence until the actual details started to pour out – I’ll set my sights on the venerable CBC. Because, from an HR and communication perspective, I believe they messed up, big time.

I understand that Ghomeshi was their golden egg. I was a huge fan too. But the CBC is the CBC, not Jian Ghomeshi. And one of the primary roles of HR is workplace health and safety. And one of the primary roles of communication is reputation management. To that end, how could CBC brass ignore the innuendo that seemed to be swirling around him – at media events, concerts, etc.? How could they not hear the whispers from others in the media about how Ghomeshi was a “creepy perve” with bad pick up lines? How could they not smell the cologne? How could they explain why feeder universities stopped sending interns to Q, their flagship show that conceivably anyone with a pulse would want to work for?

It’s easy to point this stuff out now, after social media and the like have filled in so many blanks, but come on, the signs were there! They’re an investigative journalism powerhouse for @#$% sake! Why didn’t they quietly turn over some rocks? How could they not see the growing risk, to their people’s health and safety, and to their fragile reputation?

Easy. They didn’t want to see it. They left the party early so they wouldn’t have to deal with the debauchery live. And now, they have to manage the fallout.

I applied for an internal communication job at the CBC in 2007. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m so glad I didn’t get it. Not because I couldn’t handle this (it would suck, but I’d get by), but instead because I couldn’t handle the CBC’s unwillingness to handle it, until it was too late.