Morality Clauses: The Ugly Truth

 
 

Betty E. Garrett, CMP
Published March 01, 2018

You just read the headlines of the newspaper on your iPad and realized your worst nightmare: the contracted speaker who is scheduled to deliver a keynote presentation for your annual meeting is being accused of improper conduct.

During these uncertain times, meeting professionals must be prepared to protect their organizations from media embarrassment stemming from accusations of improper behaviors. Some of the social movements pertaining to high-profile harassment and assault scandals have publicized situations meeting professionals must be willing to face. These social movement actions are affecting the hospitality industry and meeting professionals must protect their organizations by having contractual verbiage to cover past, present and future improper actions. These should not be limited to sexual harassments or assaults; actions such as drunken driving, participation in fights or riots, and scandalous or obscene behavior also can cause injury to, tarnish, damage, or otherwise negatively affect the reputation and goodwill associated with your organization.

As a bureau, we are revisiting the morality clause in our contract in light of the current highly charged atmosphere. Working with a reputable bureau gives you and your organization some protection since speakers should be highly scrutinized prior to being represented by that bureau. Speakers are carefully interviewed, and references are checked to ensure they are professional and integrity driven. The bureau’s reputation is at stake, too, and we would not put our clients in a position of hiring someone who does not meet high moral standards.

Recently we had extended a firm offer to a celebrity who later was captured on television participating in a confrontation using abusive and vulgar language. When I contacted the celebrity’s agent stating my client wanted to pull the offer, we were met with reluctance because we already had a signed, firm offer. However, after we submitted the reasons for cancellation and included what an embarrassment it would be to my client’s organization, the agent was willing to dismiss the offer. If you find yourself in this situation, document everything before notification of the cancellation of the firm offer and/or contract. This will help your case, even if you are using a bureau since they will be assisting you in righting the situation.

Historically, there have been many social movements for various causes, but as our world faces new norms, it is becoming more important that meeting professionals be vigilant about protecting their organizations from difficult public moments. Take action now. Don’t wait until you are in the middle of a messy situation to develop a morality clause for your contract.

Moral Clauses for Professional Speakers

Let's talk about the "ugly truth" regarding moral clauses as it pertains to the professional speakers you hire! During these uncertain times, meeting professionals must be prepared to protect their organizations from media embarrassment stemming from accusations of improper behaviors. Betty has some thoughts about this in her latest video. Check it out below.

Posted by Garrett Speakers International on Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Betty Garrett has spent more than three decades in the training, travel and hospitality industries. Her company, Garrett Speakers International, is based in Irving, Texas. Reach Garrett at betty@garrettspeakers.com. Check out their website at www.garrettspeakers.com.