I want to use the story of what happened when I contacted one company for an interview for Cause Capitalism to point out that the way you treat people is a clearer indication of your company’s social mission than who you hire to launch a fancy cause marketing or employee-volunteer program. I’m not hurt by it because I understand the pulls of running a business, but it’s a good reminder that the behavior of employees (and CEOs) paints the clearest picture of a company’s ethos.
Here’s what happened. Through a referral, I contacted a really wonderful social enterprise to ask for interview. The next day I get an affirmative and we schedule the interview. Smooth sailing. But what followed was a cancellation, run-around, pass off to another colleague and no-show on the interview. Again, these things happen and they don’t negate many years of the company’s good work. But it leaves a sour taste and makes me question how they treat their employees–who are a keystone of the social enterprise.
Seth Godin writes about how the front line of a company’s customer service impacts its image and councils companies to free up their employees to make customer-pleasing decisions instead of by-the-book decisions (Zappos has built a business around this). When Andrew Warner interviewed Seth for Mixergy he talked about the strong caliber of Seth’s colleague Ishita Gupta whom he’d worked with to arrange the interview. She had gone entirely above the minimum obligations of her job and Andrew wanted to know how Seth had found or developed an employee like her. Seth writes blogs and books about how the cumulative actions of a company are the true relayers of its image–not ads or awards–and he behaves in accordance, which trickles down to the people he works with like Ishita, who in turn wows Andrew, filling him with more respect for Seth’s work.
But back to the story. The company has a youthful shining star who leads its social media. Knowing I was set to interview a company spokesman, he followed up to see how it went. Upon hearing it didn’t go, he took the initiative to contact the colleague who had dropped the ball. New to the company, the youthful star clearly gets the trickle down effect of a businesses image. He did more to promote its commitment to people than a 60-minute interview with a top-level spokesman would have. I sent him an email thanking him for his help because smart behavior deserves to be acknowledged. It’s not just good manners anymore, it’s good business.
What company do you like more because of their people? What interactions have attracted you to a company or put you off of one?