Wednesday, 6 May 2015

So long, Marianne. On bullying and bossing about



Today I completed my online Diversity in the Workplace training. Guess what? It was a fatuous waste of time! These courses exist, I think, to stop the employer being sued when a manager screws up and e.g. tells a female job candidate to stay home with the kiddies.

Luckily they can be clicked through at great speed. In the multiple choice questions, avoid the very silly answer – "she'll probably leave when she gets preggers, so let's save time and not hire her!" – and choose whatever is most self-righteous and/or supine from the rest:

"Your university sends you a survey asking about... your sexual orientation... select TWO options:
(a) Information on sexual orientation will be misused by the university
(b) It's too personal - there is no good reason for the University to ask it
(c) It's important for the University to have this information about staff
(d) It's OK - noone should feel they have something to hide"

(a) and (b) are wrong. No buts. It is inconceivable that anyone at the university would ever misuse this information, now or in future. Also if the question seems too personal, chillax and get over it with option (d).

Last week I saw this sign at French customs, instructing "everyone" (but we all know who) what they can and cannot wear:




You see:

Real oppression, real bullying of the weak, doesn't wear a big ugly mask, or come in a costume marked oppressor or racist. It dresses up in noble images of Republicanism and freedom. It has elegant graphics and well-put slogans: La Rêpublique se vit à visage découvert. It has no laws against it; it is the law.

One cannot fairly say that, if this awful stuff ever comes to the UK, those who designed Diversity in the Workplace will be churning out courses on Integrate yourself into our Grand Old British Society. But someone surely will. Meanwhile: what can make a society freer, fairer, or even kinder? Is it lawyers, regulatory compliance, and compulsory online courses with a multiple choice component?