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Politics Ruining Your Workplace? Coinbase Vs Expensify Vs Gillette Debate (1/17 20:32 PST)


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Direct Headline: Coinbase Won’t Allow Discussions Of Politics And Social Causes At Work—If Employees Don’t Like It, They’re Free To Leave

Jack Kelly Oct 1, 2020,12:07pm

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2020/10/01/coinbase-wont-allow-discussions-of-politics-and-social-causes-at-work-if-employees-dont-like-it-theyre-free-to-leave/?sh=4d9f3b6f7459

 

Direct Headline: Expensify CEO Sends Email to 10 Million Customers Urging a Vote for Biden

In the first few hours after the email went out, the company received a mix of positive and negative feedback from customers, Barrett said. So far, he said, none of his employees have quit over it.

Priya Anand - Bloomberg News (via TNS) Oct 26th, 2020

https://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/accounting-audit/news/21160049/expensify-ceo-sends-email-to-10-million-customers-urging-a-vote-for-biden
 

VIDEO: We Believe: The Best Men Can Be | Gillette (Short Film)

36,061,682 views •Jan 13, 2019

Bullying. Harassment. Is this the best a man can get? It's only by challenging ourselves to do more, that we can get closer to our best. To say the right thing, to act the right way. We are taking action...

824K Upvotes  / 1.6M Downvotes

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koPmuEyP3a0

 

Direct Headline: After going woke and losing $8 billion, Gillette embraces masculinity again

Barbara Kay August 22, 2019 8:14 AM

https://thepostmillennial.com/after-losing-8-billion-gillette-embraces-masculinity-again

 

TOPIC NARRATIVE:

What is the role of politics in the modern workplace? We must work to earn to feed our families and survive. Navigating work on it's own, without the divisiveness of politics, is hard enough. But some don't feel that way.

Coinbase has a new policy that says no politics at work after seeing internal political conflict in other companies hurting productivity. Expensify took a different route, where it's CEO sent an email to 10 million people to vote for Joe Biden. This company has a policy of open political discussion as part of the work culture. The nightmare scenario is, of course, the bottom line impact to Procter & Gamble's Gillette, who pushed a woke marketing campaign, in the name of shock marketing and social justice advocacy, that appears to have backfired and hurt their already declining bottom line and, by extension, their shareholders.  Context given far below with both Coinbase and Expensify CEO letters, legal questions about Expensify's TOS and violation of the EU's GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the SJW creator of Gillette's ad and a deeper look at how Gillette gambled on wokeness and suffered for it. This is an interesting topic because it impacts all working Americans.

QUESTIONS TO RAISE OPEN DISCUSSION:

Do you believe politics should be barred from the workplace like Coinbase? Or embraced like Expensify? Or a mix of the two concepts? Do you have problems in your own workplace over political conflict in the culture and with internal employee interactions? If you were CEO, how would you want to run your own company considering this issue? What is your view of these potential conflicts when taken in context of a companies fiduciary responsibilities to it's stockholders and other partners/investors/advertisers/etc? 

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PARAPHRASED CONTENT FROM ALL ARTICLES/VIDEOS TO REMAIN IN COMPLIANCE WITH SINGLE USER FBG FORUM POSTING GUIDELINES:

( As Per 1/4/21 12:33 PST,  https://forums.footballguys.com/forum/topic/790107-healing-and-moving-forward-thoughts/page/28/?tab=comments#comment-23172408 )

".....(Brian Armstrong, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, who offered severance packages to 60 employees who wouldn't adhere to the new corporate policy of “political neutrality” )....told all his employees... that he won’t stand for politics and the advocacy.... of social issues ...in the workplace..."

"....(Armstrong Letter) ....'Focus on what unites us, not what divides us....especially when it’s unrelated to our work...we will not advocate... for any particular causes or political candidates ...that are unrelated to our mission... because it distracts... from our mission..."

"......(Armstrong, after seeing internal political strife at companies like Google and Facebook, where the two tech giants had to enact policies and procedures to deal with heated political arguments on their respective internal message boards. )....I believe most employees don’t want to work in these kind of divisive environments...our new internal communication guidelines says.... no political debate ....internally that is unrelated to work ...about 5% of employees (60) have decided to take the exit severance package (over the new policy)...."

"....(Armstrong on Google/Facebook)... politically charged debate matters took employees away from their jobs and work responsibilities..."

".....online furniture retailer Wayfair (had employees) walk off their jobs to protest the company's choice..... to sell about $200,000 of bedroom furniture.... to a government contractor that operates immigration detention centers....at the Mexico border...."

"....(Expensify CEO David Barrett on his email and why it's justified) ....'The first amendment.  To be clear, you don’t need to listen.... Biden wants democracy.. and Donald Trump does not.... I fully support and respect your given Constitutional right to disagree.... If you are a US citizen, anything less than a vote for Joe Biden is a vote against democracy....and I value that disagreement.. Are you upset that you received this as a non-US citizen?  If you're fortunate enough to live in a democracy...then I'd encourage you to ...be willing to do uncomfortable things... like emailing millions of your customers .... to defend it....."

"....Armstrong’s stance drew ....sharp rebukes from the likes of Jack Dorsey and Dick Costolo, the current and former CEOs of Twitter Inc. The move by Coinbase.... was (called) 'just very cowardly'....."

".....(Expensify has 130 employees)... Once all employees had a chance to weigh in.... Barrett says that Expensify’s 'top tier/top producing' employees.... a group of about 20 .... determined that the Trump is .... a threat to democracy....making that the official company position.... Two-thirds of the top tier group chose.... to vote in favor of the letter..."

".... ( Gillette controversial ad creator Kim Gehrig) ..... fired off a tweet at President Trump .... '61% of your country believes... you couldn't organize a p*** up in any brewery...you're on shut down.... go back to reality TV.'....."

" ....(Gehrig)...has not shied away from taking work from controversial clients...among them Nike in China – which is known for human rights abuses...."

".... ( Procter & Gamble, whom purchased 118-year old shaving business Gillette for $57 billion in 2005, had CEO Gary Coombe call the loss of revenue from the ad) ..... a 'price worth paying' ... and (disclosed) P&G had taken over $5 billion in losses for the quarter... after Gillette had an $8 billion non-cash write down after its market share.... fell over the last three years...."

" ....(Gillette's film, aired during the Super Bowl, entitled "The Best Men Can Be" ) sought to address the problem of toxic masculinity.... with scenes of male bullying, group chaos, paternalism and sexual predation....who were once oblivious to toxic masculinity, but then got enlightened...."

".....( Procter & Gambles uses Palm Oil/Surface Active Agents in nearly all of their cleaning products)...and with Unilever, both the largest users of Palm Oil in the entire world....of farm palm oil...rain forests must be clear cut and then literally burned (to build the required) palm oil plantations. This videos explain all: ......"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54dmDQsSqrU

Edited by GordonGekko
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CONTEXTUAL MATERIAL:

LETTER TO COMPANY: Coinbase is a mission focused company

Brian Armstrong (CEO) Coinbase Sep 27, 2020

https://blog.coinbase.com/coinbase-is-a-mission-focused-company-af882df8804

https://blog.coinbase.com/a-follow-up-to-coinbase-as-a-mission-focused-company-6e7545e9aea2

 

LETTER TO EVERYONE: Protect democracy, vote for Biden

David Barrett (CEO) Expensify October 2020

https://community.expensify.com/discussion/7632/protect-democracy-vote-for-biden

 

Direct Headline: Facebook And Google Try To Manage Inflammatory Postings On Internal Employee Message Boards

Jack Kelly Sep 18, 2020,11:48am EDT

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2020/09/18/facebook-and-google-try-to-manage-inflammatory-postings-on-internal-employee-message-boards/?sh=74d06aab5342

 

Direct Headline: 60 Coinbase staffers take exit package over no-politics stance

09 October 2020

Around 60 of Coinbase's 1200 employees have taken up CEO Brian Armstrong's offer of an exit package for those unhappy with the cryptocurrency exchange's policy of keeping out of political and societal issues such as the 'Black Lives Matter' movement.

https://www.finextra.com/newsarticle/36730/60-coinbase-staffers-take-exit-package-over-no-politics-stance

 

Direct Headline: Expensify CEO Urges Customers to Vote for Biden

3,516 views •Oct 23, 2020

Oct.23 -- David Barrett, chief executive officer at Expensify Inc., discusses why he sent a plea to company customers to vote for Joe Biden in the U.S. presidential election

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2f879T5i24

 

Direct Headline: My Problem w/ Expensify's 2020 Election (Email)

83 views •Nov 6, 2020

Expensify CEO David Barrett recently made the decision to send a political email out to all 10 million of Expensify's customers. The email urged the entirety of Expensify's customer base to vote for Democratic candidate Joe Biden in order to avoid voting against democracy and inciting an eventual civil war. Alex discusses recent happenings involving companies choosing to speak out on political issues and breaks down why he thinks it can be a bad move for a company to take a polarizing stance like this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9wt-Vq_okg

 

Direct Headline: Expensify CEO implores customers to vote for Biden over Trump in an explosive mass email

CEO David Barrett pleaded with Expensify’s 10 million users to stand up for democracy and vote Trump out of office.

By Katharine Schwab 10-23-20

https://www.fastcompany.com/90567857/expensify-ceo-biden-trump-david-barrett

 

VIDEO: Startups That Don’t Suck! Expensify CEO David Barrett Shares Secrets for Success

1,891 views •Aug 24, 2016

David Barrett, CEO & Founder of Expensify, started programming at the early age of 6 and has been innovating and building disruptive technologies ever since. Hear David explore his entrepreneurial journey sharing unparalleled insight into discovering opportunities, overcoming challenges, scaling startups, leading teams to success, and improving life for millions of customers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRfi0zwCEig

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CONTEXTUAL MATERIAL:

VIDEO: Expensify's Privacy Policy

913 views •Nov 12, 2020

In this episode, privacy attorney and consultant Irene Mo talks to us about Expensify’s privacy policy. With the company recently in the news for the CEO’s political emails to end users, Irene tells us how to draft to avoid trouble in the use of consumer data. She covers general principles, rules specific to jurisdictions like California and the EU, and how to create a culture of respecting consumer data that goes beyond the legal documents

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25XJ9W-1xOs

 

Direct Headline: Gillette has a problem with men, and now consumers have a problem with Gillette

Barbara Kay January 16, 2019 8:19 AM

https://thepostmillennial.com/gillette-has-a-problem-with-men-and-now-consumers-have-a-problem-with-gillette/

 

Direct Headline: Gillette CEO: Losing customers over #MeToo campaign is 'price worth paying'

by John Gage August 01, 2019 11:20 PM

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/gillette-ceo-losing-customers-over-metoo-campaign-is-price-worth-paying

 

VIDEO: Joe Rogan on the Gillette Toxic Masculinity Commercial

2,944,952 views •Jan 15, 2019

Taken from Joe Rogan Experience #1225 w/Theo Von

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JVmtaTVKPU

 

Direct Headline: Razor Market Analysis Report By Product Type (Cartridge, Disposable, Electric), By Consumer, By Distribution Channel (Supermarkets & Hypermarkets, Online), And Segment Forecasts, 2019 - 2025

Published Date: Jul, 2019

https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/razor-market

 

Direct Headline: Procter & Gamble’s Gillette razor business dinged by online shave clubs

By Ciara Linnane  April 27, 2017 at 7:35 a.m. ET

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/procter-gambles-gillette-razor-business-dinged-by-online-shave-clubs-2017-04-26

 

Direct Headline: Meet the VERY woke women (and their eye-popping campaigns) behind Gillette's controversial 'toxic masculinity' ad

It was directed by Kim Gehrig, an Australian-born and London-based ad director who has previously shot commercials for Uber, Gap and UK's John Lewis

By Ruth Styles  19:26 EST, 15 January 2019

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6596225/Meet-woke-women-Gillettes-controversial-toxic-masculinity-ad.html

 

VIDEO: Harrison Ford Learns How Palm Oil Is Linked to Deforestation

42,498 views •Aug 25, 2017

Actor Harrison Ford travels to Indonesia to learn why demand for palm oil in everyday products at the grocery store is driving massive deforestation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54dmDQsSqrU

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ANALYSIS:

**Based on some previous comments, I've made some format changes. I've added in a general summary of the topic theme in the first post plus open discussion type questions to try to help push a thoughtful discussion forward. I cut down on some of the Paraphrased section and pushed more links into the Context section. Part of the reason why I add things into the context section is to give more angles on certain profiles. For example, Expensify CEO David Barrett, I wanted to give one of his campus lectures to get more of a background on his beliefs and corporate philosophy and add things like legal discussion on if the Expensify email was a violation of it's own TOS and the GDPR and the ethical questions of using a business, with a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders, in this kind of controversial manner.

To be fair to Gillette, it owned 90% of the $3.5 billion US shaving market in 2007 only to watch it decline to 70% in 2019, after seeing competitive growth from Dollar Shaving Club and Harry's, while seeing it's global share decrease to 54 percent. So the strategy seems clear. In response to the decline based on a culture embracing more beards and push back for their own increasing pricing structure, the company wanted more young consumers, including women who typically make the household purchasing decisions for their families in America. And from those who had a greater longevity as potential customers for life and might be more prone to shift based on shock marketing/advertising. Gillette didn’t actually lose 8 billion dollars. Proctor & Gamble is taking a standard tax angle, especially with acquisitions, looking at the difference between the shareholder equity and company purchase price on it's balance sheet. There are simply cheaper online shaving alternatives where many consumers feel they are getting a better overall product. But this poor marketing decision can't have helped them as they risk losing customers across generations within the same family.

The Gillette issue offers a larger backdrop of how politics can kill business overall. The creator of the ad, Kim Gehrig, an Anti-Trump advocate, has no problem demanding social justice at the same time as she cashes paychecks for doing ads for Nike in China, where people are literally being held at gunpoint in concentration camps while stitching together those shoes, when they are not, of course, be forcibly sterilized, having their organs harvested, sold into sexual slavery, used as pure slave labor, all while being starved, tortured and executed. And let's not ignore the hypocrisy of Procter & Gamble, who virtue signal openly while burning down rain forests, in the name of profit, at a savage rate of overall destruction.

My take is I agree with Coinbase on this matter. Politics don't belong in the workplace unless it's a company specifically dealing with politics. I also agree with Coinbase offering an exit package for anyone who disagreed. I find David Barrett's actions abhorrent. First, he has a duty to his employees, now under fire for this email and also any investors/shareholders/partners. Second, while he claims a love for democracy, the decision to send the email was not made by a unanimous vote nor even a majority of all his employees, it was based on 19 people he handpicked, and only 2/3rd of them wanted to do it. Third, Expensify's email list was built based on subscriber companies submitting their employees emails to Coinbase. Meaning these companies are Coinbase's clients and NOT each and every person on that email list. Fourth, while Barrett talks about the email going out of the US and how anyone there receiving it should be grateful, in the EU, what he did was a violation of the GDPR. Barrett broke the law and is clearly in violation of his very own TOS. And how can he ask people to adhere to his TOS if he won't do it himself? So Barrett says he embraces your right to disagree, but if you vote for Trump then you are labeled an enemy of democracy and freedom. Barrett says no one has to listen, but he forces his email upon 10 million people, most of whom did not enter into a formal agreement with his business, their parent company did. There's a massive difference. Barrett talks about the value of democracy and voting, but 111 out of his 130 employees were effectively disenfranchised from having a real say in whether an email, that could cost them their jobs long term, should go out or not. And finally while Coinbase offered an exit package for those who disagreed, Barrett did no such thing for his employees. What a display of true principles in action!**
 

Edited by GordonGekko
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11 hours ago, GordonGekko said:

CONTEXTUAL MATERIAL:

Direct Headline: Procter & Gamble’s Gillette razor business dinged by online shave clubs

By Ciara Linnane  April 27, 2017 at 7:35 a.m. ET

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/procter-gambles-gillette-razor-business-dinged-by-online-shave-clubs-2017-04-26

VIDEO: Harrison Ford Learns How Palm Oil Is Linked to Deforestation

42,498 views •Aug 25, 2017

Actor Harrison Ford travels to Indonesia to learn why demand for palm oil in everyday products at the grocery store is driving massive deforestation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54dmDQsSqrU

2017? Your news related links are not very timely and I don't see how the above relates to "politics ruining your workplace"

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3 hours ago, squistion said:

2017? Your news related links are not very timely and I don't see how the above relates to "politics ruining your workplace"

"To be fair to Gillette, it owned 90% of the $3.5 billion US shaving market in 2007 only to watch it decline to 70% in 2019, after seeing competitive growth from Dollar Shaving Club and Harry's, while seeing it's global share decrease to 54 percent. So the strategy seems clear. In response to the decline based on a culture embracing more beards and push back for their own increasing pricing structure, the company wanted more young consumers, including women who typically make the household purchasing decisions for their families in America. And from those who had a greater longevity as potential customers for life and might be more prone to shift based on shock marketing/advertising. Gillette didn’t actually lose 8 billion dollars. Proctor & Gamble is taking a standard tax angle, especially with acquisitions, looking at the difference between the shareholder equity and company purchase price on it's balance sheet. There are simply cheaper online shaving alternatives where many consumers feel they are getting a better overall product. But this poor marketing decision can't have helped them as they risk losing customers across generations within the same family."

The "context" is that Gillette has been slowly losing it's market dominance in the American shaving industry since 2010. The 2017 article was to show competition was part of the gradual decline. Part of the reason for the woke ad campaign during the Super Bowl was in response to the steady loss of consumers over time. Gillette brand razors are relatively expensive and often more costly than services like Dollar Shave Club. Arguments have been made that DSC have blades that last longer and are more effective. Also many super markets and drug stores keep their Gillette inventory plus other expensive shave brands behind lock and key. This reduces appeal based on ease of access, compared to the push it might get for being seen as a "premium brand"  Marketing for razors and how Nike markets shoes are different animals. People can see the shoes you wear so your shoes can become a form of personal/social statement. How many people are watching each other shave?

What Gillette did was basic "shock marketing"  It wanted to get into the daily media cycle and become part of the current conversation of interest pushed by the MSM and other news/information outlets. It was a calculated risk that backfired. Nike signing Colin Kapernick again however ended up being a profitable move for them, but that too could have backfired. Once something gets into the public discussion pathway, no one knows how the public will react. I bring up the decline across time as a way to widen the discussion past the initial "woke" response. It would be easy to be a tribalist and blame all of P&G losses via Gillette on that Super Bowl ad alone, but the context behind it is just not that simple. I also posted videos of David Barrett speaking on business concepts and an interview about his choice to do the mass email to give him a chance to defend his position. You may not like the wider context, but it exists so Gillette and Barrett/Expensify can actually defend themselves or be given a chance to do so. Doing so was far more merciful than what I've seen some on the left give to conservatives here and elsewhere. 

824K Upvotes  / 1.6M Downvotes

Comments are turned off.

One of the things I highlighted in the YouTube video for Gillette was the comments disclaimer and the upvotes and downvotes. Before the comments were disabled, users were saying their comments were being mass deleted and that the hard numbers of the upvotes and downvotes kept changing. When I first watched the video months ago, the downvote rate was about 3.5 million and many of the comments were negative and saying they would never buy P&G products again. Obviously YouTube is Big Tech and has a relationship pathway to P&G so of course it's in YT's interest to keep them happy and keep the optics on a clearly horribly conceived ad idea as clean as possible as a form of salvage job.

Coinbase said No to politics, but that wasn't without marketing calculation to get it's business name and brand into the daily media cycle. Expensify did the same the other way. Bringing up Gillette is about the dangers of what happens when your shock marketing, via making politics a workplace issue or not, goes viral and you don't know the public response. David Barrett of Expensify didn't know how the public would respond. Nor did Brian Armstrong of Coinbase.

You wanted context, now you've gotten it. Everything I post, while some here find the volume and length personally repugnant, is for a reason and is always heavily curated.

Do you have anything to add about the pros and cons of politics being open in the workplace environment?

Or was this just digging as hard as possible to keep coming at me in my posts and the best you could cough up was the submission date on one article?

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I'm not reading through all that but will try to answer your question from my perspective.

My entire adult life has been with the federal government, and we're barred from partisan politics in the workplace. That's mostly worked well for us, as we serve the American people no matter who is in office. 

That's not to say we don't have the occasional discussion about a topic in small groups, but we definitely know who we're taking with and can easily agree to disagree. Hearing different perspectives is valuable, and most of us get most of our interaction with people in the workplace. Or at least we did. I think that interaction is invaluable. But it has to be respectful. I'm not entirely sure a subjective "be respectful" policy works generally, but with the right people it's the best policy.

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I  worked for Ford Motor Co. for 15 years.   Now I sell to the the Big 3. Been in and around everything in the business for a long time.  Very. very little political talk ever.    There is not rule against it, just never hear much chatter at all.

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I worked for a political think tank. Dang right we talked about politics.

Other places I've worked, I could easily identify with Coinbase's edict. I would prefer it, actually. Any time politics or religion gets discussed, things just change among people who keep professional distances otherwise. I just don't dig it. 

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