The sexual harassment issue against Arunabh Kumar within no time turned into a crisis for both TVF and Kumar himself. And needless to say the whole situation was very poorly managed by the company. Not only did TVF loose its goodwill gained over the past years by issuing a threating statement to the victim but also invited a lot of criticism on the statement made by Kumar defending himself.
In such situations the entire company’s reputation built over time is hanging on a delicate thread determined by how well the company can take control the situation and turn it on to their side. Although nothing can be commented on the credibility of the accusation yet, TVF could have taken over control of the situation in a much better way which would in turn have helped retain the goodwill and respect of its audience.
How TVF handled the situation:
- Issues a formal statement threating to find the author of the anonymous blog and bring them to severe justice.
- Kumar’s reaction to the controversy only sank the ship further down. His pride in being the heterosexual man objectifying women disguising with the compliment of sexy broke the hearts of many of his followers. He lost all respect from those who looked upto him and left them in shock.
- TVF employees share posts speaking in high regard and vouching for Kumar’s clean moral character.
- 2 of the 4 core members of TVF – Nidhi Bisht and Biswapati Sarkar tried clearing the air through their tweets.
- After five days, TVF issues another statement which was both apologetic and defiant in nature. Although they still denied the existence of any such employee in the company, they were sorry about their previous statement and termed it as quick and emotional.
- The statement also informed about IC committees set up in each location.
In event of any situation which can tarnish the reputation and throw the company into a crisis, it is always necessary and advisable to take control of the situation before speculations begin doing the rounds.
The best way to manage a crisis is by engaging. It is very critical for the company to be open and transparent in their handling of the situation.
How could TVF as a brand have handled it better?
- Immediate response is the first step towards reducing or controlling the impact of the issue. The first and immediate response should have been a neutral statement from TVF acknowledging the graveness of the accusation rather than wait for 5 days to do the same.
- Sexual harassment at a work place is quite a grave problem. The response from TVF should have been more responsible, and showcasing the appointing of IC Committees to investigate the issue.
- TVF should have been more proactive in their approach towards solving the crisis than wait for more accusations to pile up and then react or respond.
- After the first anonymous post, many other non-anonymous posts with similar accusations cropped up. TVF should have maintained a constant vigil on the new developments and responded to each of them instantly. A response with a little personal touch which said the company regrets the experience felt by the concerned party and assure someone from the company would reach out to them soon to look into the matter would surely reduce the impact of negativity around the incidents.
Having a personal touch in the PR statements go a long way in help taking control of the situation and establishing a responsible image for the company.
- TVF claimed to have no record of the existence of any employee matching the anonymous blogger having been employed with them. Rather than just making these claims, providing some form of data proof would have completely turned the tables in favour of TVF.
- TVF should go an extra mile and throw efforts in showcasing itself as a safe environment for not only women but any employee to work.
Although nothing can be commented on how true the allegations are until proven, TVF went from being a company which was most looked up-to to being looked down as one of the some unsafe place to work for.
TVF now has a long way to go in regaining the lost reputation and rebuilding the tarnished image.