Thursday, October 25, 2012

4 Lessons from Ikea's biggest mistake yet: Erasing Women

Spot the difference
If you haven't heard the story, Ikea deleted women from their catalogue for Saudi Arabia.  They've since realised how stupid it was and have issued an apology saying it's not in line with their values.

Thing is, Ikea isn't a company that just has a hokey mission statement on the wall.  They shout their values from the rooftops.  They encourage their employees to share their values of:



Not to mention:  "Putting People First" (which is awesome)

And there are actually people out there telling women to let it go and that we should respect the beliefs and religion of the Saudi Arabians.  But....

What if it was a Chinese man who had been erased?
What if it had been a Black man?
What if it had been an Indian child?

For some reason women get told to pull their heads in.  That's not OK.

Anyone can believe whatever they want, including Saudi Arabians.  But Ikea, who believes in Togetherness & Respect, should never have put something out there that Polarises and Disrespects.  It makes you feel duped into believing they actually gave a crap about their values in the first place.

But once you stop to think about it, it would've simply been a bad call by the marketing team.  The graphic designer didn't stop to question his boss (guarantee it would've been HIS boss), and that particular manager wouldn't have given it any thought.  They would've just thought 'Oh well the easy solution is to erase the women from the catalogues, then they'll be happy.'  Or hey, it might've even been a bit of Scope Creep from the Saudi Arabian client!  Who knows? 

Ikea, I forgive your stuff-up.  Nobody's Perfect.

What can we take away from this?

Lesson 1.  Know what you Stand For
Ikea have some awesome values and initiatives.  They have programmes that do a world of good, environmentally & on a community basis. 

Lesson 2.  Remind Yourself & Your Team of what you stand for - Constantly
If they had stopped for a minute and thought 'Hang on, are we respecting women by deleting these ones?' they would've saved themselves a massive load of trouble.

Lesson 3.  Don't Comprimise Those Values.  Ever.
Who wants to be a sell out?  Plus you'll get caught out.  Everyone does.

Lesson 4.  If you Stuff Up, Apologise
Don't hide your head in the sand, front up.  Don't justify your actions, you'll just come across like a complete douche.

That's it from me, anymore thoughts from you?  Leave a comment! 

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