Steph Korey, the cofounder and CEO of Away, a fast-growing lifestyle brand luggage company adored by Millennials, was the subject of a harsh hit piece by the Verge. The online site, which is part of Vox Media, portrayed Korey as a mean-spirited, difficult manager who was rude, inconsiderate and too demanding of her staff. The Verge story was picked up by a number of other online sites and went viral.
The articles incited the wrath of Twitter. A mob mentality erupted, leaving Korey vulnerable to public derision, ridicule and abuse. As reported in the New York Times, Korey, who is pregnant, said, “It’s very upsetting if suddenly total strangers tell you that you should get an abortion.” A person on Twitter wrote, “Imagine how she’ll treat that baby.” In response to the unrelenting online hate, Korey apologized and relinquished her CEO title.
The initial and pile-on articles missed the bigger point. Some writers may lack direct, hands-on corporate experience, starting on the bottom rung and engaging in boring, monotonous, dead-end jobs. These positions are usually stepping stones toward a promotion or offer the chance to learn about an industry and use this knowledge to procure a better job in the future.
It seemed that a large part of the complaints stemmed from a group that managed the phone banks and dealt with orders for the company’s pricey luggage, fielded complaints and had to address an array of issues—sometimes from unhappy customers or about products that were viewed as imperfect by the client. If you’ve ever held a role like this, it is a no-win job. When you deal with the retail public, there are always problems at each and every company. If you try to appease the customer, management may not be pleased by the refund you suggested. When you side with the company in a dispute, the client will become annoyed or irate.