The (Politically) Correct Choice?

1 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2018

See all articles by James R. Detert

James R. Detert

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Christina Black

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

An American CEO who had built a large, highly successful national business faced a hard decision. He had the opportunity to become the main cleaning contractor for the Washington Redskins football team. However, he had concerned about working with a company whose name and logo offended him, some of his employees, and some number of Americans. Yet it promised to be a lucrative opportunity that would open the door to even more.This (disguised) case is designed to surface and explore students' instinctive decision-making tendencies around a high-stakes leadership situation. Thus, it is short enough to be read and responded to in class. Students are assigned readings and assignments related to the case after class discussion in which they are encouraged to further reflect on their initial responses. This case can be used to focus on the decision itself—take the contract or not—or on how the decision should be made (i.e., on the decision-making process).The case is quite flexible and would work in any course that deals with leadership, ethics, decision-making, organizational behavior, human resources, and related topics. It is appropriate for a range of levels and audiences, including undergraduate, MBA, and executive education.

Excerpt

UVA-OB-1265

Nov. 28, 2018

The (Politically) Correct Choice?

Trevor Gaines had founded and now ran a large, highly successful national residential and commercial cleaning services business. Recently, a new opportunity had presented itself—namely, to become the main cleaning contractor for the Washington Redskins corporate headquarters, practice facilities, and football stadium.

However, the decision whether to take the contract was difficult because Gaines's company had many minority employees from top to bottom, and he disliked the notion of contracting with an organization whose name (and corresponding logo—a picture of a male Native American face with long black hair and feathers) offended him, some of his employees, and some percentage of citizens throughout the country. Martin knew that although recent surveys suggested only a minority of people were offended by the team's logo, the validity of the surveys had also been heavily criticized. He also knew that other data showed a general trend that more people reported being offended by the name in recent years, especially people under age 30 (who were the one age group where a majority reported thinking the name should be changed), and that a strong majority of African American and Latino fans now thought the team's logo should be changed. And, despite claims that the word “redskin” was a reverential one honoring the bravery of Native Americans, he knew that its use throughout most of US history had been to racially stereotype and demean people of this heritage.

. . .

Keywords: defining moments, sports, entrepreneurship, leadership, ethics, organizational behavior, decision-making, stakeholder input

Suggested Citation

Detert, James R. and Black, Christina, The (Politically) Correct Choice?. Darden Case No. UVA-OB-1265. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3301956

James R. Detert (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Christina Black

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

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

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