Let the truth be told

Does your organisation address the elephant in the room? Or does it sweep the uncomfortable under the rug?

At a Hawthorn Football Club social event they addressed the uncomfortable.

They voluntarily updated the guests in the room on the investigation and next steps regarding the racism allegations against the club.

There was no formal requirement to have this conversation, they just did.

I’ve always admired the AFL for leading the way and tackling the hard issues head on. In the early 2000s when I worked for the Australian Government’s Harmony Day, which is about saying no to racism, the AFL were one of our first corporate partners. When Australians went to referendum on same-sex marriage rights only a few years ago (which is crazy to think!), the AFL replaced their sign with YES. As a sports-loving nation, it makes sense that often our changes are driven by strong leadership in these sports organisations, and I feel that the AFL have led the way on so many of these changes that our society now takes for granted.

I will always support organisations that speak their truth and do everything to find the truth and then fix it so it minimises the risk of it happening again. But these organisations are few and far between.

As Marketers, C-Suite Leaders or Media representatives, I can only feel that we’re part of the problem. Uncovering the truth when it’s not what we want to hear comes with financial and reputational consequences, as we pull our sponsorships, tell unbalanced stories, look for blood, which is why the majority remain quiet.

But as we know, cover-ups and silence protects and prevents change. The truth is often uncomfortable. It’s hard to hear.

But if it means change for the better of society, then as a Sponsorship Partner or whatever my role, I will stand by these organisations. Continuing sponsorship doesn’t mean we’re supporting the mistakes or wrongdoing, but we’re instead supporting transparency, finding the truth, and developing preventative measures and creating change that protects other individuals, organisations, or our society from being in this situation again.

The truth tellers are the ones who I want to work for, work with, and support professionally and personally. Because without these truth tellers, the change that’s needed will never be made.


Author: Angela Penfold, Brand Strategist
20 years’ Brand, Marketing and Communication experience in-house and agency-side across many diverse portfolios, nationally and internationally including Government, FMCG, Finance, Technology, Health, Real Estate, Motor Sport, Travel, Professional Services, Fashion and Utilities. 

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