Rebuilding moral image a tough task for Alibaba: Global Times editorial
Published: Aug 08, 2021 07:04 PM
File photo shows the Alibaba employees entering the company in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.Photo:Xinhua

File photo shows the Alibaba employees entering the company in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.Photo:Xinhua

The sexual assault allegations by a female employee from the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding has sparked outrage across the opinion spectrum. Netizens are lashing out at the working culture of the company. An "ice-breaking culture" post Alibaba accused as rumor three years ago, has become one of the hottest hits on social media.

In the past, when the company encountered such crises, it had room to delete the post in a low-profile manner. But this time, it has no way to separate the latest allegations from the company's working culture. The public is asking why the company is slow to responding to the incident which took place on July 27. Alibaba could not offer an answer that satisfies public opinion for this ham-handed inaction. Even after CEO Daniel Zhang Yong said on Sunday that he was "shocked, angry and shameful" hearing about the scandal, the public did not buy it.

Public opinion has one-sidedly criticized Alibaba before any legal conclusion is drawn. Besides the reason that people have a natural hatred toward sexual assault and sexual harassment, another important reason is that the image of Alibaba has been shattered. The alleged sexual assault on a female employee took place at a sensitive timing for Alibaba, which dealt a heavy blow to the reputation of the company.

The nature of the scandal is not difficult to figure out once the police get involved. People who committed it will shoulder the responsibility, and Alibaba does not have much to do with it. But rebuilding the moral image will be a tough task for the company. It has to reflect upon why the public is emotionally detaching from it. It will need to understand why people do not like it any more.  

China's internet needs some leading enterprises which have the courage to struggle and have innovative capabilities. They are a part of China's competitiveness. Meanwhile, as they become more successful, they will also have heavier social responsibilities. They need to put the relationship between profits-making and making positive contributions to the society in the right place. They must proactively explore how to effectively integrate capital with the society's mainstream value systems.  

If they could do these things well, even if problems happen, they will be treated matter-of-factly in the public opinion field. In this way, the public opinion crises they may encounter will be greatly reduced. Alibaba is one of the leading enterprises that have made significant contributions to the development of China's internet economy. It's hoped Alibaba will calm down to carry out adjustments. It needs to accept both legal and moral supervision at the same time, and begin a more stable and powerful new start to jointly develop with the society.