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Wayfair's Lame Response to an Employee Walkout Shows Zero Emotional Intelligence

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Hundreds of Wayfair employees and other protesters took to the streets in Boston, protesting the furniture retailer's alleged sale of beds to detention centers for migrant children. The company's weak response is a perfect lesson in how not to handle employee activism.

It all began with $200,000 worth of beds that employees say Wayfair has sold to BCFS, a nonprofit organization operating a detention center for 3,000 migrant children in Texas. The employees responded with a letter of protest--with 547 signatures--sent to Wayfair leadership. In the letter, they quote a statement from the United Nations: "Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation." The letter writers continue: "We believe that by selling these (or any) products to BCFS or similar contractors we are enabling this violation and complicit in furthering the inhumane actions of our government."

Wayfair's reaction was lackluster, to say the least. Part of it was an exceedingly bland letter to protesting employees that neither denied nor confirmed the sale to BCFS. After a lengthy preamble in which the company lavished praise on its "engaged team that is focused on impacting our world in meaningful and important ways," the letter went on to state leadership's position: "As a retailer, it is standard practice to fulfill orders for all customers and we believe it is our business to sell to any customer who is acting within the laws of the countries within which we........

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