By Daniel Hunter
Employees and associates have a responsibility to behave in such a way that does not bring their employer into disrepute or damage the company's 'brand', the Managing Director of Bibby Consulting & Support has warned.
Michael Slade was responding to the most recent episode between Premier League football players Luis Suárez (Liverpool) and Patrice Evra (Manchester United).
Suárez's refusal to shake Evra's hand and comments made before and after the game had led to Liverpool's owners and the club's multi-million pound sponsor making public statements in an attempt to protect their brand.
When Suárez was banned for eight matches for racist behaviour, he Tweeted that he was "disappointed because everything is not that it seems" and the claims against him were "completely and utterly false". He said he would comply with the sanction "but with the acquiescence of someone who has not done anything".
Liverpool's manager Kenny Dalglish said after the match that those who blamed Suárez for anything that happened during the game were "bang out of order".
Subsequently, the sponsor is said to have had a "very robust conversation" with the owners of Liverpool Football Club — which has forged close ties with the anti-racism charity the Anthony Walker Foundation — and demanded that action be taken.
Suárez issued an apology, saying he had let down the club "and what it stands for" while Dalglish said: "All of us have a responsibility to represent this club in a fit and proper manner and that applies equally to me."
"Every company should have robust equality and diversity policies and disciplinary policies in place that make it clear to all staff that discrimination is unacceptable and it is considered gross misconduct if an employee makes any comments that could bring the business name or reputation into disrepute," Slade commented.
"It is especially recommended that in addition to the above; companies have comprehensive IT and social media policies in operation so that employees know the consequences of posting inappropriate comments on social media sites.
"Dalglish is absolutely right — employees should always be seen to protect the reputation of their employer. Nobody is bigger than the organisation they work for, so behaving appropriately at all times is a must if you value your career. Anyone who thinks otherwise is likely to pay the ultimate price."
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