Red Cross staffer #1: I have a great idea. Let’s make a swimming pool safety poster!
Red Cross staffer #2: Yeah! And let’s make it cool by adding a floating whale!
Four weeks later….
Designer: Here’s my poster design. Do you have any comments?
Red Cross staffers #1 and #2: This is awesome! Good job on the whale, but could you put a little red cross on his whistle? Once you do that, we will send it up the approval chain!
Six weeks later….
Red Cross staffer #1: 28 staff members have reviewed and approved the poster. They love it!
Red Cross staffer #2: I’ll email the PDF to the printer. We’ll send one to every public pool in the country!
Two years later….
Person at a public swimming looking at photo: WTF? All the white kids are “cool.” Everyone else is “not cool.”
One day later….
Red Cross media relations manager: The American Red Cross appreciates and is sensitive to the concerns raised regarding one of the water safety posters we produced. We deeply apologize for any misunderstanding, as it was absolutely not our intent to offend anyone. As one of the nation’s oldest and largest humanitarian organizations, we are committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do, every day. To this end, we have removed the poster from our website and Swim App and have discontinued production. We have notified all of our partner aquatic facilities requesting they take down the poster. Our organization has emphasized to our partners and on social media that it was absolutely not our intent to offend anyone and apologized for this inadvertent action. We are currently in the process of completing a formal agreement with a diversity advocacy organization for their guidance moving forward.