Will You Get Fired for Recommending a Controversial Policy Change?

By Rich Bond

My personal observation is that many people are afraid to make controversial recommendations because they fear rejection and retribution.

When I was at Seagram, I worked for over six months on a project analyzing why sales had dropped by 50% or more on some key brands in the New York market.

As my support staff and I dug deeper, the data pointed to only one possible conclusion: The brand sales losses were related to a change in the ethnic makeup of the market.

In the Bronx, which had become 80% Black and Hispanic, sales were down almost 80%.  In Staten Island, which remained largely white, sales were down less than 20%.  A similar relationship existed within the other boroughs.

Our conclusion was that Seagram had to initiate ethnic advertising programs.

I was told the Bronfmans (the family that owned Seagram) felt ethnic advertising would diminish our brands’ images and that I would be FIRED for my recommendation.

Yet, the study was presented, and the recommendations implemented.  I was promoted shortly thereafter.

Have you ever made a controversial recommendation?  What was the result?

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