Implementation of the good cop/bad cop tactic has a time and a place. It should not be used by a multi-billion-dollar organization that is reeling from allegations made by 40 former employees and counting of workplace sexual harassment.
Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder has attacked the latest reporting from the Washington Post, calling it a “hit job” and denying the allegations directed to his own behavior. The Washington Football Team has issued a statement that contains much different content and that strikes a much different tone.
“Today the Washington Post published an article detailing additional allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct at the Washington Football Team,” the team said in a statement attributed to no specific person. “We are deeply distressed by these terrible allegations and are committed to investigating them fully. Our priority is creating a culture where our employees — on and off the field — are respected and empowered.
“Our first concern is for the safety and security of our teammates, and we have encouraged any employees who have endured similar experiences, now or in the past, to report it immediately. We are already taking a series of additional steps to hold ourselves accountable to our commitments. We remain focused on building an organization where all employees feel value and are invested in shaping the new direction of our franchise.”
If the Washington Football Team wants to truly encourage full and complete cooperation from current and former employees, the Washington Football Team immediately should surrender the investigation to the NFL, since the investigation is not and cannot be independent. The investigation is inherently suspect, because the independent investigator was hired by and is being paid by Snyder himself. Current and former employees may be concerned about cooperating with such an investigation, and rightfully so. Beth Wilkinson, an accomplished litigator who has represented major companies as defendants in civil lawsuits, possibly could be less inclined to get to the truth and more inclined to lock in a version of the truth that will be presented on behalf of Snyder and/or the team in court, if/when lawsuits are filed or a fight emerges over Snyder’s ongoing ability to own and operate the team.
To inspire true confidence and cooperation, the investigation must have distance from the organization. New team president Jason Wright seems to be more than capable of understanding this. The question now becomes whether he’s able to sell that concept to Snyder, who instantly will be at much greater risk of an adverse outcome if someone over whom he has no control or influence is charged with getting to the bottom of this ever-growing list of allegations, a list that now includes multiple allegations directed at Snyder himself.