Case: Transparency and Ethics at Everlane

Problem Statement: The main problem is poor human resource management because of many issues between employees and the company’s management. There is evidence of mistreatment, discrimination, and a lack of proper processes for the employees to raise complaints.

Analysis: When Everlane started operating in 2010, its success story was one to emulate by competitors. It was among the most innovative companies in the world. The company grew in sales of casual apparel and accessories sold online and through a few retail stores in major cities within the US. However, this success story came to an end with the outbreak of a much-unexpected pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic led to drastic suppression of the economy, causing indefinite closures of retail outlets in most parts of the country. Everlane was among the affected, so like other companies, it was forced to adapt to this situation. More than 200 employees lost their jobs, most of which were from the customer experience team. One notable controversy in the layoff was that the customer experience team had announced its intentions to unionize. The company was cited to lack proper processes for employees to communicate their concerns related to discrimination and harassment. To show its interest in solving these issues, the company promised to open a seat for a black member into the board and senior leadership. It also promised to carry out anti-racism training. The management had a poor relationship with employees. Promises to take corrective measures could be a reactive approach to solve issues. The company must address the raised concerns reactively and proactively to ensure the same scenario does not occur in a future crisis. The management must accept to focus on solutions that can promise a better brand image to the public and improve job satisfaction to the employees.

Alternatives

Alternative 1: The first alternative is to develop clear policies against harassment and discrimination and a formal process for reporting complaints by employees.

Pros (or Benefits): The benefits of this alternative are:

  • The employees will have a chance to challenge unfair decisions. Organizations perform better when all employees work cooperatively towards a common goal, giving their very best and understanding that their effort will get recognized. It is a way to show employees that they are vital to success at Everlane.
  • When conflicts arise between employees and management or among employees, there will be a faster and effective resolution because of better communication.

Cons (or Costs/Challenges): The challenges or cons of this alternative are:

  • The management may tend to ignore oral and minor complaints. Minor complaints within the workplace may mean a lot but are less likely to be reported through formal processes.
  • If the policies are not clear and involve few steps and processes, it can lengthen the time needed to address workplace issues.

Alternative 2: The second alternative is focusing on ways to improve job satisfaction in general.

Pros (or Benefits): The benefits of this alternative are:

  • It can improve productivity, reduce issues, and impact brand image positively.
  • With better job satisfaction among employees, the company can address productivity issues, such as those caused by a long waiting list.

Cons (or Challenges/Costs): The cons or challenges of this alternative are:

  • Job satisfaction does not address the cause of issues such as discrimination.
  • It may be costly for the company.

Recommendation: The best solution is developing a formal communication process for employees to raise issues and a clear policy against discrimination and harassment.

Implementation: Everlane will execute the plan as follows:

  • Month 1: Craft a well-defined customer complaint policy that defines a complaint, list channels and methods of receiving those complaints, explain the handling process, outline factors that make a complaint high on the priority list, such as discrimination or harassment. The complaints management process should be standardized such that everyone is aware they need to follow the same protocols and procedures.
  • Month 2: Everlane should have a complaint policy by this time, and employees should be aware of the process. The next step for this month is to assign responsibilities. It should clarify who will collect and record complaints in the database, among other things. During the same period, employee training is necessary.
  • Month 3: This month henceforth should involve tracking and reporting. Now that Everlane has a management policy and standardized processes with defined roles and responsibilities, it is crucial to understand whether the process is working as expected or not. It gives room for improvement or changes.