Exclusive by Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Clive Peeters managing director Greg Smith spoke eloquently last night about how disappointed he is to learn that employees and former employees are using Facebook to damage the reputation of the company.

After being told of the existence of these Facebook pages, Smith said that whilst employees might think this is just fun, it has real consequences that affect the business at all levels.

“I don’t think it’s a laugh, but I don’t quite know how you stop these people doing these things because they have access to this Facebook thing, which I hate with a passion, and they can throw this stuff out there and it can be very damaging,” he said.

Asked whether Clive Peeters management would be addressing staff directly about this, Smith said, “Definitely, at the very least we’ll be doing that, but if it’s outside the company activities there’s not a lot you can do about it”.

When asked what message Smith had for other businesses that could be similarly affected, he acknowledged that prevention is very difficult.

“With the whole technology thing, everyone’s trying to come to grips with it and it’s very difficult to control it.

“We’re living in different times where, if you wind the clock back 10 years, these things weren’t even heard of or possible.

“Now we’re in a scenario where people can do damage, sometimes without even realising they are doing the damage, they might just think it’s funny, but they can do damage very easily now.

“Our view of this is to keep going out there and reiterating the message: ‘guys be extremely careful — a company’s reputation is on the line and we’ve all got to make sure we’re doing the right thing by the company.’”

“You’ve got to keep at it and be relentless is all I can suggest.”

Speaking about his own employees, Smith urged them to refrain from participating in these forums, and to remember that everyone in the company is doing their best to survive what are very difficult economic conditions.

“We all need to be pulling together,” said Smith. “We’re all on the one team and we’ve all got the common objective of trying to keep the company profitable and all of us employed.

“We grew up as a family business and we still consider ourselves that today, although we’re quite a bit bigger. As a family business we try to live and preach that culture the whole time.”