United Airlines is in a PR tailspin of epic proportions because of a recent video that shows a man being dragged off a plane due to over-booking.

Why is this so shocking?

  1. United has a policy that gives them the right to “reaccommodate” passengers from overbooked planes—in this case, so their own employees could take those seats (overbooking is a result of another United Airlines policy that states they must overbook planes to assure profitability)
  2. Because they acted on that policy so brutally
  3. They defend their position, that this policy gave them the right to disregard any responsibility they have to preserve the dignity of their customers

Thank you United Airlines for illustrating, so viscerally, what it looks like to have an organization behave so badly in the name of policy. They will pay an unprecedented price for the damage this short-sighted action caused. A price they can only begin to imagine.

How could this happen?

Either, United Airlines doesn’t have any organizational values that speak to treating others with respect, or they don’t live them. Values are the tool that allow people to override policy, to do the right thing, and still behave within the boundaries of what the organization is committed to.

If you have ever questioned the value of having organizational values, this is all the evidence you need. Just watch their stock fall. And if this example has provoked you to examine your organization’s values, you might benefit from this resource: Crafting meaningful values for your organization.


Want more from Fathom?

Sign up to receive updates about our articles.