Tuesday, March 24, 2015

WTC Lack of Response to #50WomenToKona (Just My Opinion)

I've been hesitant to write anything about this #50WomenToKona thing... probably for a couple reasons... First, lots of people have already written (very well, I might add) all the reasons why it should be so... and really, who am I to think my opinion matters much in the big picture? I'm not one of the pros fighting for my career, and I'm not coaching any of the up and coming pros fighting for their careers (those people, it seems to me, should be freaking SCREAMING from the rooftops).

But then I thought that well, maybe my opinion does matter, because maybe I represent a lot of people who WTC might consider to be it's 'customer base'. Shoot, triathlon has been my lifestyle since 1995. And I've heard the phrase YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!! (13x since 1997.) I've lost count of how many athletes I've guided into completing their first and/or their best Ironman races... I'm signed up to do another Ironman race later this year and I really want to be excited about it. But this whole #50WomenToKona thing is leaving a very bitter taste in my mouth.

So let's see if I can sum up why WTC as a brand feels tarnished to me... Essentially I think it boils down to this: WTCs customers have spoken. Loudly. They've said over and over and over and in a variety of ways what they want. They've listed out every imaginable reason for wanting it. And it seems to be a majority opinion. So why the complete silence and inaction on the part of WTC? Is it really just that the CEO doesn't agree that it should be so? I mean, is it possible that he actually doesn't believe in gender equality? Or maybe he does believe in it, but feels that if he grants the wishes of the masses that he has somehow 'lost' a battle? Is it an ego thing?

My problem, really, is that the solution seems SO SIMPLE. Like, they could fix it tomorrow. And because it is so simple, it's unfathomable that no statement at all has been made by anyone at WTC about the issue. No one at IRONMAN will even acknowledge that there's a critical mass forming. Instead they just remain silent. Are they hoping the critical mass just eventually disappears? At this point it seems the movement is too big for that. It's going to need to be addressed. And really, sooner is better than later.

So I think that's it. It's the big picture of the way this organization is being run that is blowing my mind. When a huge section of your customer base is calling for action, and you flat out ignore them, they're probably gonna get pissed off. And if they get pissed off enough, they're probably going to stop being customers at some point. What organization runs itself like that? No matter what the issue actually is, whether you agree or not, an organization that ignores the wishes of its consumer base is not going to succeed in the end.

Here's the thing. I have loved Ironman. I have lived Ironman. I have worn the Ironman symbol around my neck every day for 10+ years. Yesterday, for the first time since my wedding day and the day I gave birth, I took it off. A symbolic measure only to myself I suppose, but I think it's representative of how customers are starting to feel about this organization that is ignoring the massive cry for change. And in all honesty, it made me really sad. It's sad to me to watch this organization that I have loved act in a way that alienates half of its customer base. I hope they do the right thing, and I hope they do it soon. The longer they hold out, the harder I think it might be for me to forgive. But maybe that's just my opinion.


JB said...

Great post Michelle... sorry that I only just saw it today!

JB said...

Great post Michelle... sorry that I only just saw it today!

Reginald Holden said...

This incredibly powerful. Thanks for posting.

dawnelder said...

Well said Michelle.

dawnelder said...

Well said Michelle. I am not quite ready to take my necklace off but have to say the disappointment is growing

Annette Lee said...

Very well said Michelle. The longer it goes on, the harder it is going to be for the powers that be to back down - courage gentlemen, and those women up there too!