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by Dorothy Hatic

I do not like to write about current political events.  I would prefer to stick to my usual shtick, which is education.  But the recent Sony debacle with leaked emails from company officials referencing President Obama, Angelina Jolie and others has gotten my ire up just a tad.  It has led me to think about it in terms of what it really says about Sony and its obviously ugly company culture.  

I want to preface this blog by saying that this is an editorial and does not necessarily represent the thoughts, feelings, or opinions of my partners.  And I want to say that I am not trying to speak disparagingly of the involved employees at Sony.  There seems to exist a culture there where it is perfectly acceptable to make fun of the hand that feeds them.  

Sony is a giant in the entertainment industry.  That probably will not change.  And their PR people will work diligently and without fail, no doubt, to smooth even this faux pas over until it is a distant memory of the past.  However, I am sure that it presently stings pretty much.  And those whose emails were hacked and who said less than kind, compassionate, and loving things about the stars of their movies and the movie goers like the President of the United States are probably squirming just a little bit in their own shame.  I’m sure they all had mothers who taught them better.  

We can all learn something from Sony’s misfortune.  What we put out into the universe matters.  Whether we are writing a seemingly innocent email, talking in confidence to a close friend, or driving our car and merging into traffic when someone cuts us off, what we say and do matters.  My mother told me if I couldn’t say something nice about someone, not to bother saying it.  Well, I can tell you, although I know that is a good lesson to follow in life, I don’t always remember that.  I’m sure Angelina Jolie has been called worse than a “spoiled little brat.”  I know I have been called worse.  But I’m not sure it’s the words so much as the energy behind those words that do the damage.  And now it is out there in the universe for us all to speculate about and the energy I feel when reading those stories is not all that positive.  As someone who works with corporate culture and is deeply passionate about helping companies to grow workplaces where people can thrive, and someone who is building a video game to teach young people to make conscious choices, and someone who is building educational curriculum to help educators to help their students to be accepting of others, this Sony situation is extremely disconcerting.  It is a punch in the stomach.  

It is also a good time for us to take stock of a few lessons to be learned here.  Our technology systems are vulnerable to hackers.  Be vigilant.  To quote my mother, if you can’t say something nice about someone, think about what you’re saying.  What kind of power of you wielding when you make fun of or disparage another?  And what is it saying about you?  And if companies are made up of people, and people supposedly want to work for companies who provide safe, pleasant and respectful working conditions, what are our own responsibilities toward that end?  If Sony needs someone to come in and help them build a company culture, I can make a few recommendations.