Mozilla is a company which is responsible for various open soft software and is most known for its successful web browser Firefox, the second most used web browser on all computers. Last year in April, Mozilla’s CEO, Gary Kovacs announced he would resign as the CEO of Mozilla. Kovacs has been working with Mozilla since the 90s.
Brendan Eich is one of the founding co-owners of Mozilla and was officially declared the new CEO of Mozilla this week. However, not everyone at Mozilla is happy about this new position for Eich, many Mozilla employees are protesting the new CEO. Three board members have researched from Mozilla because of the new CEO. The reason for the protest in the new CEO is because of a $1,000 donation he made 6 years ago to support California’s Proposition 8 which was aimed to prohibit gay marriage. This donation was not found out until 2012 and caused an uproar in the software and tech industry.
Eich posted on his personal blog addressing his questionable belief of equality and ensuring everyone that he believe in equality so that everyone can rest assured that Mozilla will support and accept everyone regardless of their beliefs. Eich stated that he will prove this through his actions and continuing Mozilla’s community and health policies to include everyone.
In order to determine if Eich’s response was the correct type of communication strategy, we can use the Crisis Communication Decision Making Tree by Johar, Birk, and Einwiller to see if the approach taken is appropriate and effective.
Is the accusation true?
Yes, the $1,000 donation was listed on a public database under Eich’s name with Mozilla as his employer.
Is the crisis severe?
The topic of equality and gay-marriage is a very active and discussed topic nowadays, so I believe this crisis is indeed severe, especially when it can affect people inside and outside the company.
Since the first two questions answered in the tree were both yes, the third question was not needed. The recommended communication responses for this crisis would be:
Polish the halo
Not just me
These approaches would reduce the perception of brand responsibility, intentionality, and repeat occurrence to the audience. The approach Eich took in his personal blog was to polish the halo. Polishing the halo is a good approach in order to bolster its image and focus on the positives to reduce spillover. In Eich’s blog post, he did not directly mention the controversial incident, but does acknowledge that people are questioning his opinion on equality because of his donation. He then emphasises the things on the positive things Mozilla has as a company, such as their health policies and Community Participation Guidelines.
I think that the come clean approach would be more effective in this situation as the benefits and guidelines Eich talks about does not exactly answer the question of if he has changed his belief on equality as those are Mozilla’s beliefs and not his as a CEO.