Abortion, Social Media, and HR

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I don’t know if anyone has caught the news, but Angie the Anti-Theist used her blog and twitter profile to share the circumstances of her pregnancy and her decision to abort. She live-tweeted her experiences with RU486 and the whole world exploded into a banal debate about abortion, murder, and Jesus.

I talked to a few friends in HR/Social Media about this situation, and I wanted to share some of the comments from the conversation.

  • That poor woman just ruined her brand. [Not knowing anything about her brand.]
  • Wow, she is using social media poorly. [Really? She’s using social media to communicate an authentic experience.]
  • She will never be able to get a job, again. [Bollocks. Also, who says she’s looking for a job?]
  • She just fucked. it. up. for every job seeker in America named Angie Jackson. [Only at stupid companies.]

This comes as no surprise to long-term PRHR readers, but I think it’s reckless for employers to use social media tools to screen potential employees. The internet is rife with misinformation, and you never know if the data on your computer screen is fact or fiction.

Furthermore, candidates can either do the job or they can’t do the job. I’m sick of employers taking on a paternalistic tone when it comes to social media and the implications for employment.

What bothers me most is that one-third of American women have had an abortion, which is a legal procedure. The idea that unplanned pregnancies happen to teenagers and poor women in liberal, east coast cities in wrong. I know this from being a woman AND working in HR: corporate leaders, executives, brand managers, and PR professionals who earn six-figure salaries get pregnant by men. They all have their reasons for not carrying the baby to term. To hear social media dilettantes and HR professionals say that live-tweeting an abortion is tantamount to career suicide is naive and offensive. It shows a complete misunderstanding of the freedom and power of social media.

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This is what I coached when I was in HR.

  • Once you demystify something, you can have an honest conversation about it.

I think this lesson can apply to employee benefits, executive compensation, and abortion.

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Oh, and for the record, I would hire Angie Jackson in a heartbeat. The woman has a way of creating community and having a conversation with her audience. You should be so lucky to have those skills in your organization.

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