WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE OXFAM SCANDAL?
YET again we are reminded that crisis management is simple. But very, very hard.
Setting aside morality for a moment, the odds can never justify gambling on a cover up.
You can speculate at and even sympathise with the motives of whoever at Oxfam took the decision to sit on the story of the use of prostitutes by the aid workers in Haiti. “We’ve dealt with it. We need to be allowed to get on with doing our good work. Bad publicity will only obstruct this.”
Well not as much as getting found out does.
The charity is now threatened with withdrawal of government funding. It has a seen a slump in donations. And celebrity ambassador Minnie Driver has cut ties with the organisation.
All these things would have been avoided if Oxfam had made an announcement when they sacked the offending staff.
They should have done what every organisation should do when crisis strikes.
Get to the bottom of what happened. Be honest about it. Apologise directly and sincerely. Not “we are sorry IF” or “we deeply regret”. Take responsibility on behalf of the organisation, and do not deliver any part of your statement in the passive voice. Then take steps to ensure what happened can not be repeated. And make these steps known.
Like I said: simple. But very, very hard.