In PR, we know as well as anyone that good governance is a key to success. In business, it has the ability to build employee satisfaction, which can then lead to positive client or customer relations. These factors serve as part of a strong foundation for an overall sound reputation and public image.

 

For struggling teen clothing retailer, Wet Seal, good governance hardly seems to be a priority at the moment.

 

On Friday, just a week after closing about two-thirds of its stores, Wet Seal officially filed for bankruptcy. The company had been battling slowing sales and declining stocks over the past couple of years. This decision to file for Chapter 11 was determined to be the best course of action by the company’s Board of Directors, given the situation.

 

Wet Seal employees in Seattle sparked an online movement to boycott the retailer after posting this sign up in their closing store (reddit.com)

Wet Seal employees in Seattle sparked an online movement to boycott the retailer after posting this sign up in their closing store (reddit.com)

Despite Wet Seal’s financial struggle, the company has recently gotten the most attention for its treatment of employees during this difficult period, as opposed to its financial plan of action.

 

This attention was generated after Wet Seal employees in a closing Seattle store spoke out about their grievances with the company. They highlighted such issues as being given only a day’s notice before being laid off, not being offered transfers to other stores, and not getting paid for unused sick and vacation days.

 

The employees verbalized these complaints in the form of a sign on their store window, a photo of which began circulating online not long after. What has resulted is a social media war against Wet Seal, with disgruntled former employees and appalled former customers vowing to #BoycottWetSeal.

 

The big question is this: Is good governance important, even if it can’t save your company?

 

Surely, Wet Seal would have had a hard enough time trying to save itself from this crisis without the additional hardship of a consumer boycott. However, even in the case that Wet Seal doesn’t anticipate the possibility of preserving itself, should it not uphold the same respect a thriving business would have for its employees?

 

At the end of the day, whether or not a positive public image could have saved the company, the pillars of strong PR are about a lot more than building a respectable brand solely for the purpose of business. They are about building such a brand in an effort to align your company with strong core values.

 

Unfortunately for Wet Seal, its failure to uphold such values may prove to be the final nail in the company’s coffin.

 

How do you think Wet Seal’s treatment of its employees during its financial crisis reflects poorly on the company? Do you think good governance is essential, even when it can’t save a company? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi