BC thinks Eich could have handled it better too:
I am a little surprised that you haven’t pursued the anti-Islam angle on the whole Eich thing — e.g. “Mozilla Policy Denies Muslims Executive Positions.” Personally, I think Mozilla’s problems started well before they forced Eich to fall on his sword, and that they let the grounds of the debate be set for them.
While I don’t think firing those who complained (as you suggested) would have worked, they had other options that a seasoned PR staff could have found. Off the top of my head, they could have responded to the crisis early by pointing out that, while senior management absolutely is pro gay marriage (I assume that they are) that denying all who oppose gay marriage the CEO position is fundamentally incompatible with their open philosophy. Then turn it around and ask why it is OK for the boycotters (OK Cupid in particular) to be so openly anti-Muslim? Since when is extreme prejudice against Muslims not just tolerated, but encouraged? As a global company, one would think Mozilla would hold itself to a higher standard.
My concern about the firings is that they would be billed as proof that he was anti-gay and actually caused things to snowball.
Obviously, what he did failed. My main point is that if you can’t manage to present OK Cupid’s position as the close minded/thought police in this kerfuffle then your PR folks are not very good. Seriously, the CEO made a small contribution to an admittedly hot button issue where he was actually in the majority at the time, therefore we should boycott an entire company that, on the whole, is probably strongly left of center? It’s ridiculous. So, I am confident that it was poor PR even if I am not 100% on the correct solution.
My guess is that a better solution would show how open Mozilla is — something like showing muslims in turbans working closely with an extravagantly gay guy wearing ass-less chaps, two women in Subaru showing up at work with an orthodox jew, then show the caption “OK Cupid would have us fire half of these people. We don’t tolerate intolerance”. I would have laughed and OK Cupid would have looked like the fascists that they are.
The reality, I think, is that Mozilla’s board and top management didn’t want Eich there as CEO and was happy to see him forced out, even though they wanted to keep him around in a non-CEO capacity. (High function rabbits understand that they need some non-rabbits around to do the actual work out of the limelight.) So, even though they could have easily won the PR war and sent the gay fascists within and without the organization scurrying for the closet, they didn’t want to fight it, let alone win it.