You shouldn’t humiliate your own people

There’s a derogatory expression for people who are a little too keen on other people’s hospitality. They “would turn up for the opening of an envelope”, it is said of them.

Until this week, we (the seven billion people on the planet) perhaps didn’t appreciate how difficult it can be to open an envelope properly.  It seems extraordinary with all else that’s going on in the world that the mix up at the Oscars should so dominate the headlines. Even so, it is quite funny.

What’s not so funny came a few days later when the photos and names of the two people who had mixed up the envelopes were blazoned all over the world’s media.

No doubt the finger pointing was intended to make clear that this was not the mistake of Hollywood clowns or chaotic luvvies. It was accountants, professionals, PwC no less, that had messed up. Since we should deserve better from people that wear suits to work, we’ve been reassured that the two people responsible will never work again.

But pointing the finger was a bad thing to do. It was bad crisis management and it was bad management.

It is hard to see what anyone gained by blazoning the names and photos of the individuals across the media.

What it did say is that the Academy is not taking responsibility for its mistakes. After all, the relationship with their supplier, PwC, was their responsibility. Something went wrong. The Academy should wear that.

And as its President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, should have fronted it. She should not have made a scapegoat of two contractors. She should not have put someone else’s face on it.

You can only imagine what sort of signal that sends to anyone else working there and in similar environments. And how motivated they must feel to know that at the first sign of trouble their boss will throw them under the bus.

Less well reported was the mix up in which film producer Jan Chapman was mistakenly pictured in the “In Memoriam” montage, which celebrates film industry figures who have died in the past year.

Since Cheryl Boone Isaacs has not pointed the finger at anyone else for this, can we assume she is taking personal responsibility and so she “will never work again”? Probably not.