Lucy Gao’s email gaffe has apparently become a topic of national importance. We all got the email, we all laughed at the dress code “the more upper class, the better”, we all were astonished how someone could assign friends 15 minute slots to arrive at a party - but most of all we were disappointed that we didn’t get the email soon enough so we could all go along (or was that just me?).
And while it may be old news now, it certainly won’t be the last email of its kind that circulates on corporate email systems around the world. Indeed, Lucy Gao was merely one example in a long line of email catastrophes. For instance, there was modern day Romeo Joseph Dobbie, who innocently (ok, stupidly) emailed a woman he’d met on a Saturday night with a declaration of love, who then forwarded it on to her friend, who forwarded it on…and on, until it made it into the Metro as a 'news item'.
Other stories follow a similar path of self-destruction, though with rather more serious consequences. Take city lawyer Richard McKenzie, who last year sent his secretary a £4 dry cleaning bill for a ketchup stain on his trousers. He ended up having to quit his job after the email he sent was splashed all over the UK press. Then of course there was the splendidly named Bradley Chait, the man whose girlfriend, Claire Swire, emailed him about his sexual prowess, which he then ungallantly forwarded on to his friends, who emailed it on to the world, resulting in a series of suspensions at his place of work (though the jury's still out on whether or not this was actually a hoax).
Now, while these incidents undoubtedly raise a chuckle in the office, there's actually a pretty serious lesson to be learnt here - in each case, the message was originally sent from a corporate email address.
While you may be prepared to walk the path of shame as an individual, I’m not sure that your company would want its reputation dragged through the mud because of an email that you sent with its name attached to it. In fact, any company which values its brand should be actively making their staff sign up to a communications policy, outlining what constitutes an acceptable use of corporate email and the penalties that will ensue if a member of staff oversteps the line. It may seem a little extreme, but if you stop and think about it, the justification is pretty clear.
And so, next time you get ready to write an amusing email about what you got up to last night, maybe stop and think about it for a second. Hate to be a killjoy, but do you really want to become the next Lucy Gao?