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15 November, 2023

How Grab Malaysia Handled a Crisis: Lessons to Learn

In the hyper-connected world of social media, a personal post can quickly turn into a public relations crisis for a company, as Grab Malaysia recently discovered. An Instagram post made by Chloe Tong, the wife of Grab’s CEO Anthony Tan, sparked controversy and calls for a boycott of the popular ride-hailing platform.

Crisis Management: Did Grab Malaysia Respond Effectively?

To address the controversy, Grab Malaysia issued a public statement on their Facebook page emphasizing their commitment to humanity and peace. The statement highlighted that the company “stands on the side of humanity and hopes for peace and a ceasefire.” They also pointed out their alignment with the United Nations Global Compact’s principles, underscoring their respect for human rights.

From a crisis management perspective, Grab Malaysia’s response was timely and addressed the issue head-on. The company made it clear that the personal views expressed in the controversial post did not reflect the company’s stance. Furthermore, Grab underscored its commitment to principles of peace, respect, and human rights. This response helped to distinguish the company’s values from the controversy stirred by the private post.

Although the Internet public had a knee jerk reaction, Grab was quick to point out that the post pre-dated the events of October 7, and were in no way intended to take a position on an emotionally charged, ongoing humanitarian catastrophe that affects both Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Lessons Learned?

This incident brings to light some important lessons for corporations in a world that’s increasingly connected and digital. Firstly, the personal views of a company’s leadership or their family can have significant implications for the company’s image. Therefore, leaders need to be mindful of their online presence and the potential impact on their business. Ideally, their online presence and content should be actively managed. In this case, perhaps a vigilant social media manager could have warned of the potential for misunderstanding, right after the events of 7 October occurred.

Secondly, in times of crisis, it’s crucial for companies to respond swiftly, transparently, and with a clear message that aligns with their values. A well-crafted crisis management plan can help ensure the right steps are taken at the right time. Crisis simulation training is essential, the rule being that the best way for a team to learn how to manage a crisis well, is to experience one in the first place. Obviously learning on the job is not ideal, that’s where crisis simulation training comes in.

Lastly, this situation emphasizes the importance of open communication, both internally with employees and externally with customers. Companies need to maintain a two-way dialogue with their stakeholders, especially during a crisis, to build trust and mitigate potential damage to their reputation.

In conclusion, while Grab Malaysia managed to navigate through the crisis with a swift response that emphasized their company values, there are certainly valuable lessons to be learned in ensuring a more holistic crisis management approach.