Questioning the Status Quo : Protocol Consultants International

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Questioning the Status Quo

by Judith Bowman on 02/22/15

The recent sports illustrated cover which leaves little to the imagination, is a classic example of an ambitious business decision gone awry. 

Admittedly, we have become a society of extremes – X-treme rides in Las Vegas have been trumped by more X-treme thrills in China and Dubai… X-treme sex at the movies and online is beyond X-plicit.  X- treme fashion, music, reality shows, cars and more.    However, going too far has its own set of rules and there comes a point where the “wow” factor subsides and the thrill-effect backfires.   

The iconic sports magazine, in its ambition to be more suggestive and sell more magazines, has only been successful in being too provocative and reaching a new low to the point where women – and men - around the country are talking derisively and some groups are urging retailers not to openly display the magazine.  The National Center on Sexual Exploitation says, the magazine has migrated into the “adult magazine” classification.  If this cover was on Penthouse or Hustler whose reputation is aligned with nudity and pornography, we would not be having this conversation.  However, because SI has the reputation for being a coveted journal of respected sports coverage for the past 50 years and our children read this magazine, we expect more. 

The SI brand has always been synonymous with promoting athleticism and featuring role models both male and female. When SI first ran the Swim Suit edition, it was considered a bit avant garde and even titillating for a sports magazine however, consumers bought the magazine which encouraged the publication to continue the Special Edition.  Sales escalated and the Swim Suit edition became a much anticipated issue, not to mention a coveted, even prestigious “get” by models.  By choosing to exploit nudity and thereby denigrate women, the magazine has made a bad business decision.

Bad business decisions happen all the time.  Management makes mistakes; companies are not omniscient.  Most of us are hard-wired at work to “go along to get along.”  We are encouraged not to upset the status quo and not question the boss.  Heck, its’ even one of Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior:  “When your Superiors talk to any Body hearken not neither Speak nor Laugh.”

That said, when controversial issues arise in your own companies be a voice.  Express your opinion.  You were hired for a reason.  What your company was saying essentially when they hired you was, “I like what I see, I want to see more.”  Know that your opinion matters.   It takes courage to be that person to speak up and risk upsetting the status quo.

As always, it’s not what you say but how you say it.  Say it respectfully, with confidence and conviction.

Although none of us had a say in whether or not this cover should run, we do have a say now.  Express your opinion at the cash register and speak to their bottom line.  Also, e-mail your opinion to:

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