James Ashby (Hanson’s chief-of-staff) was caught on tape describing a way to describing a way to ‘skim’ money from taxpayers and the party’s candidates. Crisis PRThere is a clear perception of dishonesty.

With a history of controversy, he has a reputation for poor values. So, should Pauline Hanson keep him or fire him?

Had she fired him on the spot, it would have sent a message about her integrity. To keep him spoke to the opposite – by accepting him, she accepted his values as her own.

But there’s more. If One Nation’s culture demanded a high level of integrity, a conversation like the one secretly recorded in that meeting would never have occurred. I can’t for a minute think the conversation would happen in the offices of most of our clients. The cultures simply don’t allow for that type of thinking. It’s a Crisis PR nightmare in the making.

Stress reveals our worst and best values.

Many of our clients come to us for Crisis PR, mostly because they are somehow being shamed in the media or are about to be. While our first task is to rectify the media inaccuracies and stop the media activity as soon as possible; in the background we are assessing the values of the company leadership.

The rule of thumb is that if the company’s values are good, as reflected in the behaviour and language of the leadership team, they will survive the crisis. If the values are poor, the company may not. Based on what’s visible, Plutus Payroll and its leadership team (accused last week of massive tax fraud), as an extreme example, is beyond rescue.

Back to Pauline Hanson. She really had three choices:

  • Accept him and his dishonesty, and be labelled with it.
  • Reprimand him publicly, saying he had promised to reform a bad habit – displaying integrity, plus a commendable tolerance. Risky. If he’s a compulsive offender, she’ll suffer doubly when he re-offends.
  • Sack him on the spot – and display her own high standards.

In accepting Ashby’s standards, I think she owns them.

Photo sourced from Sydney Morning Herald 22/05/17 – Alex Ellinghausen

Peter Wilkinson

Author Peter Wilkinson

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