Squarespace and Domestic Terrorism in Charlottesville: The Responsibility of Private Companies to Respond

by: Andrew Hoffman

Publication Date: May 2, 2022
Length: 16 pages
Product ID#: 8-968-451

Core Disciplines: Ethics, Social Impact, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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This case follows the decision-making of Connie Ovalspot, fictional head of human resources at Squarespace. Ovalspot is being called on to advise the CEO and board members on how to address white supremacy on the company’s platform following a domestic terror attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. After the event, employees reached out to Squarespace executives to protest the existence of extremist and hate-related groups on the company’s platform. They asserted that Squarespace had a responsibility to remove these profiles. Ovalspot is tasked with determining the most appropriate and prudent course of action, including drafting a corporate response to the Charlottesville tragedy.

This case examines the intersection of a firm’s responsibility to its strategy, employees, customers, and values, viewed through both a legal and social lens.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Examine the company’s responsibility in addressing the issue at hand with employees, customers, and investors taken into consideration.
  • Assess available options and potential reactions from stakeholders.
  • Formulate a recommendation that directly responds to leadership and also addresses internal and external stakeholders.
  • Debate ramifications of pursuing various actions for employees, customers, and investors.