What’s with the bcc?

Blind copying of emails puts me into a blind fury. It goes against open management.


I’m starting a revolution. My aim is to destroy the bcc. I’m petitioning Microsoft and you’re welcome to join me.

Don’t get me wrong (just yet), blind copying others in to your email messages definitely has its purposes. I use it frequently to keep my team across issues they need to know about, and can see many benefits.

It’s just when it’s used politically that it frustrates me. Or for personal gain. I’ve been blind copied in on numerous messages where it seems the only reason I’m being involved is just so I can see how wonderful the other person is for what they’ve done. What happened to just getting on with our jobs and having others trust that we’re doing them?

Another time bcc makes me mad is when two people are having a conflict. At some point during this conflict I’ll be bcc’d. It’s as if the first person includes me to get my vote in the conflict. Sorry, not buying it.

If you want my vote or need my support, ask for it. Don’t play games as we did in the sandpit, expecting me to take sides.

I’ve been witness to a few disasters with the bcc, and who’s surprised? It’s so easy just to hit the Send button or Reply All. A friend of mine, let’s call him Sam, was bcc’d in on an email from his manager, Michael. Michael was telling an employee about their pay rise, and had bcc’d Sam. Sam was sitting next to this co-worker when the email came through, and the co-worker saw straight away that Sam knew about the increase. Michael instantly lost respect from both Sam and the team member.

If you need to tell something to someone, be transparent. Copy them in (so that all parties can see). If you’re copying a recipient in half-way through a conversation with another, be sure to mention it in your message, so that everyone’s on an equal footing.

The chief executive of St George Bank, Gail Kelly, put the idea in my mind and I’ve been pondering ever since. She’s a fan of management at its most open and abhors the bcc. She says people know where they stand with her and she won’t stand for any politics on her turf. Awesome. Where’d all the Gails go?


Emma Brown, at 27, has bought two businesses and sold one. She ran the recruitment company Staff it for eight years.

Now she is Chief Chick of Business Chicks, Australia’s leading community for women. She’s on the board of Entrepreneurs Organisation Sydney, and lives in Sydney with her fellow entrepreneur partner.


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