Yesterday, a corporate communications lead found out what happens when you forget about ethical PR.
Bloomberg News was the first to report the reason why Wal-Mart’s vice president of communications, David Tovar, had resigned his job rather abruptly: a falsehood on his resumé, which claimed he earned a college degree when in fact he never finished his coursework.
The fib came up as part of a background check prior to a promotion. Tovar insists the academic shortfall was something he discovered months after graduation, according to a report by CNBC. That’s not impossible, and being “a few credits short” isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Tovar misrepresented his education to his employer, and continued to do so for eight years.
I’ve long held the belief that public relations must serve as the conscience of the organization. That means PR practitioners must be above reproach. Even a seemingly small lie is still a lie, and it will brand a person for a very long time.
Ironically, September is Ethics Awareness Month, as declared by the Public Relations Society of America. This incident should serve to make us aware indeed—in Mr. Tovar’s case, painfully so.