resources or guidelines on moderating a company intranet
February 10, 2018 12:45 PM   Subscribe

My company (5000 global employees) encourages the use of our intranet as a social networking tool for employees to collaborate on projects and company culture. For example, people post pictures, tell stories about projects, have hobby and diversity groups, share relevant news articles, etc. However, when company policy interacts with anything in the political sphere, things get heated. How can we do this better?

Explicit statements are removed, but offensive remarks (about e.g. gender-neutral restrooms, health insurance, employment protection for expat employees) are left because "everyone gets to share their opinion." And, the buck appears to bounce between HR and IT for what to do. I don't think anyone has clear policy on how to manage this aspect of company culture.

I'm interested in leading a project that will develop moderation guidelines. As a long-time Metafilter user, I have a good handle on how to create a culture that *I* would like to see - but at a company, all employees are members of the community.

I believe our objectives are to:
1. Contribute to a positive experience for all employees
2. Keep employees working hard without getting them worked up about opinions posted on the intranet.
3. Stay true to our embrace of diversity and inclusion, without causing conflict with those employees who have not embraced diversity and inclusion

Please give me your advice, best practices, resources, etc., (examples and case studies would be great!) for how companies can build a vibrant intranet presence without causing conflict.
posted by rebent to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Honestly when I ran social networks and forums, politics and religion debates were either forbidden or exiled to an unmoderated forum where everyone knew what they were getting into, because dealing with that kind of thing would just devour entire days.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:03 PM on February 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Quite. Seriously, people are welcome to go have any political discussion they like on Reddit (or wherever). Unless it directly impacts company policy, I can't come up with any reason why having arguments over politics inside the company would be a good idea. Ban / evict the lot on sight.
posted by pharm at 1:39 PM on February 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

It sounds like when you say “how can we do this better?” you really mean “how can we stop having people share opinions that are offensive to me?”
I’m sure I’d find a lot of these opinions disagreeable too, but there is no way to allow discussions of this nature among a network of 5000 people without there being some opinions you’ll find offensive. It would be better to just ban these topics from discussion, it isn’t really appropriate for the workplace.
posted by cakelite at 2:05 PM on February 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

I mean, honestly? Assuming you're in the US, your current approach sounds like a huge liability. Offensive remarks are left posted about expat employees? (Do you mean, e.g., people originally from another country living in the US?) All you need is for someone to be passed over for promotion in favor of someone born in the US. Their lawsuit will surely benefit from this online evidence that people throughout the organization apparently condone discriminating against people on the basis of national origin, as company resources are being used to post those comments.

Guidelines should be developed by HR, ideally with the help of an HR attorney who also "gets" online forums. It should include zero tolerance for discriminatory statements. People have a right to their opinion? Sure. They can think whatever they want. But when it comes to actions, including making statements or posting comments, they can face consequences. The organization has to comply with equal-opportunity, anti-discrimination, and anti-harassment laws, and it has chosen to build a culture of diversity. People who want to express xenophobic and transphobic views may need to find a company that is more aligned with their "values." I'm assuming you all have policies on anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and equal-opportunity. The policy should tier off of those. If you let people have "a right to their opinions," and those opinions create a work environment where certain groups of people feel unwelcome, that's incompatible.

In addition to the HR policy, implemented by someone who quickly deletes anything inappropriate, there's also a role for the managers in your organization to set the tone and provide positive leadership. If things start to go off the rails, whoever is monitoring the site should pull them in in various ways to speak up to help establish the culture you're building.
posted by salvia at 2:52 PM on February 10, 2018 [10 favorites]

"And, the buck appears to bounce between HR and IT for what to do"

I would ask Legal to weigh in.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:23 PM on February 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

offensive remarks (about e.g. gender-neutral restrooms, health insurance, employment protection for expat employees) are left because "everyone gets to share their opinion."

You need to talk to Legal, who will explain to you (and apparently, HR???) the meaning of "hostile work environment." What you describe is a righteous lawsuit waiting to happen. This is actually good, because this is the pinion on which you pivot policy.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:05 PM on February 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

DarlingBri articulated my own suspicions.

I think that if you want to be able to have a reasonably freewheeling forum, the "right" thing to do would be to pass the hat and pay for a hosting service not on the company dime. This probably would not pay enough to compensate a moderator. I don't think there's an easy answer here.
posted by adamrice at 6:14 PM on February 10, 2018

Hey folks, thanks for the constructive advice so far. My only input on the current system would be to lead a project to develop moderation guidelines. This would of course be working with Hr, legal, and IT, and possibly other people around the company as well.

However, what I really need to do that effectively are best practices and case studies of how other companies have used their intranet as a tool to build culture. Suggestions that we should lock it down, or that I should start a 3rd party forum, are not very useful to me in this situation. Thanks
posted by rebent at 12:04 PM on February 11, 2018

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate.
posted by pharm at 5:51 AM on February 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Most of this should already be covered by some sort of non-discrimination policy developed by HR. Even if the policy doesn't specifically call out the company intranet, harassment or discriminatory behavior shouldn't be tolerated anywhere. If they don't have such a policy, they should.

When we first started allowing open comments on our intranet, we linked to such policies right above the box where you input your comment. We've evolved since then, and honestly have found that the community does a decent job of self-policing. Over time the offenders have mostly faded away, or are at least taking their comments to private groups that I don't see.

I'm in charge of the strategy for the intranet and how we integrate with internal social media for an organization larger than yours. Feel free to memail me if you want more specifics.
posted by thejanna at 9:41 AM on February 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

« Older How far can power of attorney extend?   |   Do you have two middle names? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.