Looking for (E)Harmony

3 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017

See all articles by Andrew Wicks

Andrew Wicks

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Jenny Mead

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Ikram Shariff

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

A growing company has an opportunity to sign a major client: an online dating service. But that service is notorious for having forbidden ads indicating a search for same-sex partnerships. That policy goes against the corporation's own ethics and the personal views of many of its employees. Yet the company needs a large contract such as this one to sustain itself. What should the company decide to do?

Excerpt

UVA-BRI-1003

Rev. Jun. 21, 2011

LOOKING FOR (E)HARMONY

Peter Cook, founder and CEO of AFI International Consulting, knew little about online dating sites, but he realized that as a potential client, eHarmony—one of the largest and most successful online dating sites—posed a dilemma for his company. He needed to resolve it before the next month's shareholder meeting. The management at eHarmony had recently approached AFI to chalk out a new plan for achieving its financial targets in the current economic downturn. This was a big opportunity for AFI; the company had been struggling financially, turning out dismal fourth-quarter revenues and losing one of its biggest clients, a leading investment bank. With over 20 million registered users and $ 250 million in revenues in 2009, eHarmony was growing strongly; the online dating service had the potential to be a financial boon for AFI and could help lead it out of economic stagnation. Yet eHarmony's exclusivity—its refusal to let gays and lesbians use its site—went against the grain of AFI's inclusive and diverse culture.

AFI and Diversity

From the start, Cook and AFI management had worked hard to hire employees with a myriad of different beliefs, cultures, and ideologies. Cook believed strongly that this work force diversity—including sexual orientation—had been one of the primary reasons for AFI's strong initial growth. He had seen firsthand that the best solutions to complex problems often came from different perspectives or points of view. In many presentations and speeches, Cook had said, “We believe a key factor to our success and the impact we make with our clients comes from the vast range of viewpoints and creativity that AFI employees have to offer.”

. . .

Keywords: ethics

Suggested Citation

Wicks, Andrew and Mead, Jenny and Shariff, Ikram, Looking for (E)Harmony. Darden Case No. UVA-BRI-1003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2973951

Andrew Wicks (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/wicks.htm

Jenny Mead

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Ikram Shariff

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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