But it takes guts to say sorry well and Simon Henry’s apology shows none of reflection that is the bricks and mortar of a good mea culpa. He missed the opportunity of expressing regret or acknowledging how his actions made Nadia feel. Instead, his sulky petulant note reads as if it was written under instruction.
The only redeeming quality is that he accepts responsibility for his actions avoiding further insult with the gaslighting ‘I apologise you took offence’ line.
As for the rest – too little, too late and a resounding fail.
A genuine apology has three parts.
First, demonstrate concern. Acknowledge the people your comments have hurt and show us that you spent at least a little time in reflection. Simon could have done the decent thing and empathised with how Nadia felt on reading the comments, or the impact his comments had on other entrepreneurial women in our society. At the very least, show concern for how your actions impacted the people in your immediate circle, your employees, shareholders, and family. Help us believe you are genuinely sorry.
Second, tell us what happened. This is the brave part. Acknowledge why your comments were ‘inappropriate.’ Explain how this matter has revealed your own biases and prejudice towards women – that you have work to do as a CEO, a father and leader of women.
Finally, tell us where to from here. Provide something concrete that demonstrates your commitment to being better. Simon could buy some redemption with a donation to a female centric organisation, but a more profound action would be assembling a team of female leaders at DGL for a reverse-mentoring programme.
Asking for help speaks volumes and committing to action within the context of your life and business and tells your circle that you serious about changing.
But no. After a week of silence and a weak apology, Simon’s actions (or lack of) have allowed others to paint him as a caricature, as an out-of-touch misogynist lacking empathy.
His apology was his opportunity to cast a new image and start a different narrative. It was his best shot at a redemption story.
Simon is clearly hoping for the news cycle to run its course. And it will. It always does.
But his legacy will remain well after the headlines and Mr Henry is running out of headlines to save it.