Your Company’s Next Reputation Crisis

The Impact Seat Foundation
4 min readOct 12, 2018


Over 650,000 views have been logged of Police Commissioner Richard Ross’s youtube video discussing the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks after a 911 call by store employees in April 2018. Former employees of Google filed a class action lawsuit against the company in 2017 charging that women were systematically paid less than men for equal work. The New York Times, in August 2018, reported the story of African-American Carle Wheeler who claims The Westin hotels didn’t respond well enough, or fast enough, when another guest challenged her and her daughter about use of the pool.

We’re in a national conversation about bias and inclusion and businesses are being deeply engaged, willingly and not. Employees, customers, managers, activists, government officials… all are paying attention and sharing what concerns them by video, lawsuit, word-of-mouth, policy and deed — and the audience may number in the millions.

Is your company ready to respond authentically (and quickly) when a story emerges about your diversity commitments?

My research over the last 10 years shows that companies are generally rather haphazard in how they think about, and act to combat discrimination and instill inclusion as firm-wide commitments. Most companies have a program here and there: a senior leader has embraced a charitable cause…HR has found a mis-match they want to correct between the demographics of employees and customers…..perhaps an Employee Resource Group has brought concerns to management …or, like The Westin Hotels, customers have trained their eye on service concerns.

But this piecemeal approach to diversity isn’t enough anymore. A diversity and inclusion strategy is a “new necessity” and not a “nice to have”. And that strategy needs to be comprehensive to the breadth and depth of your organization. It needs to be ready for use in a reputation crisis and as a guide to leadership that will shift culture towards inclusion. Like all good strategy-making, it needs to consider the landscape, the organization’s goals, customers, resources and values.

At The Impact Seat, we’ve worked with many companies (and business units) who start off unable to catalog what their company is accomplishing and what they could and should be doing about D&I. They are not sure what value can be created in terms of reputation, ROI, and innovation. They are interested in what other companies, like them, are doing and what the scope of the project should be.

To address this complexity, The Impact Seat has built a Framework for Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. The Framework is a strategic analysis tool to see where you are — and to determine where you want to go. Make smart choices…make them work…choose them so you can leverage other change. It’s an audit and gap analysis that prepares the way for real strategy making. It can be customized to your company’s position and priorities leading your team to a sense of purpose and direction: “Here’s where we are, here’s what we can do now, let’s save this for later.”

The complexity of the model is in considering how it will play within your working organization. For example, there are issues of alignment — are your recruitment, retention, promotion and succession plans by demographic truly aligned? Issues of management — do team members know how to realize the value of their diversity to innovate? Are you ready for a crisis moment? Issues of reputation– How does the world rank the company’s engagement? Where does your company want to stand in the social movement for inclusion?

Along four vectors, we work with companies to identify their current stand, future goals and resource needs. As with all strategy-making, formulation is step one and implementation is step 2. A company’s diversity and inclusion strategy can set a roadmap for managers and employees to successfully respond to the immediate, the desired, and the unexpected now and over time.

So it’s time to ask — is your company (or business unit):

  • Ready for a “reputation breach” around diversity and inclusion?
  • Savvy on how it stacks up regarding best practices for diversity and inclusion?
  • Working steadily to build a culture of inclusion to match tomorrow’s demographic worker profile?
  • Living its D&I commitments?

The Impact Seat works with companies to build a plan with actionable tactics to realize the reputation and ROI benefits of diversity and inclusion. Let’s set up a time to talk. Email me for a link to my calendar:

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The Impact Seat Foundation

Creating a world in which women can succeed as business leaders.