My co-worker over at The Hiring Site sent me an interesting article this morning about a CEO named Chip Conley posting some questionable photos on his Facebook site. I think it’s going to spark an interesting discussion…
Background: Conley is the CEO and founder of Joie de Vivre, a company that operates a collection of boutique hotels in California. He started the business 22 years ago when he was just out of college. Today, it’s a $230 million company with more than 3,000 employees and 38 properties.
“I accepted pretty much anyone who “friended” me, including plenty of employees, and gradually I began posting the usual Facebook fodder — links to articles, quick takes on books, emotional missives. My profile picture — a business-casual blazer-and-collared-shirt look — was uploaded by my PR team as well,” Conley said.
While meeting with his “cultural ambassadors” — employees who represent each hotel — to create a social media policy for the company, an issue was brought to his attention: His employees were uncomfortable with some of Conley’s Facebook photos.
The controversy: You see, Conley recently attended Burning Man, a weeklong anything-goes festival. Upon his return, he posted six photos on his Facebook page, two of which show him shirtless. In one photo, Conley dons a tutu; in the other, a sarong. In addition to posting these to his page, he also changed his profile picture from a professional shot to one of said shirtless pictures. (See below).
Of choosing this picture, he says:
“I’m just not a blazer kind of guy. I consider myself a rebel. My first book —The Rebel Rules: Daring to Be Yourself in Business — preaches the value of authenticity in business, of being true to yourself. So a few pictures on my Facebook page that show me having a good time? I honestly didn’t give it a second thought.”
His employees, however, did give it a second thought. At the meeting to discuss the company’s social media policy, Conley was told that his young staff members didn’t like seeing their CEO in a tutu. He was also told that staffers were concerned about some of his Twitter updates, in which he expressed anguish over the demise of an eight-year relationship. Essentially, employees felt that Conley was setting a double standard by creating a social media policy at the company for everyone except him.
Conley doesn’t feel he is violating any policy; he stands by the fact that he is simply being true to himself. Plus, he attests that the social media policy is mainly to protect the guests of his hotels. If a celebrity is staying at one of his hotels as a guest, for example, his staff members aren’t allowed to Tweet about it. When it comes to posting pictures or Tweeting, Conley says it’s case by case, but for the most part, as long as an employee isn’t posting pictures of himself stealing something while wearing the company uniform, it’s considered the employee’s private life.
So, what do you guys think? Should CEOs be held to a different standard than their employees? Should they have the freedom to post whatever photos they want? We’d love to hear your thoughts!