5 Things Every HR Pro Can Learn From Riley Cooper and the Eagles…

By now, you've undoubtedly heard about Riley Cooper of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Go read the summary here, but I'll give you the cliff notes: Cooper's drunk at a country music concert, goes off on a minority security guard using a racial slur, someone tapes him and the thing goes viral in his workplace and the world at large a month or two later.  His career is likely over in a industry that features 68% black teammates.

Nasty stuff.  Here's five things to remember as HR Leaders from the Riley Cooper scene, and possible use in any internal training you do: Cooper

1. The language that pop culture is forcing on us is not for everyone to use once consumed. One of my favorite writers deals with the volume of this word in the hip-hop music world by replacing the slur with the word "Ninja".  As in "My Ninja".  Clever way to deal with it.   To be fair, Cooper's use of the word "Ninja" was angry and not in the spirit of attempting to belong.  Still, with so many people consuming hip-hop, don't kid yourself for a minute - the word's not available to everyone.  So take that into account, especailly if you've got your personal playlist turned up or available for all to see.  

2.  Your worst moment can now be captured for the world to see.  It's fair to remind your workforce of the reality, I think.  One bad moment captured by someone can cause a lot of damage.  See the next point for why.

3.  Our Professional Conduct Policy can be used to evaluate what you do outside of work - if media like video, audio or text brings your outside behavior into the workplace.  All it takes is someone to share it and odds are, it's viral inside the company.  I'm shocked this doesn't happen more than it does.

4.  Leadership is judged based on how swiftly it reacts.  I'm not going to tell you the right answer, you just know you have to get there quickly.  The deal is on tape - it's not a rumor.  That means people expect quick action.

5.  Once you're out on paid leave, you're probably not coming back.  Cooper got sent out of the Eagles workplace for "therapy".  Odds are he's not coming back. I've written about this before here.  You know it's true, you don't put anyone out unless you expect they're probably not coming back.   Once someone is out, it's probably just details at that point.  

Race issues have been around the workplace forever. You've probably had a few dropped into your lap.  The Riley Cooper scene feels different because it's the perfect mix of smartphones, race baiting and employee relations.

It's also the perfect mix of what someone's career is worth.  On the extortion front, want to take a guess what the tabloids paid to secure the video in question?

$100-$150 bucks.  

if that doesn't make you say WOW, I don't know what will.

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