Thursday, August 31, 2017

no English-speakers need apply

There are several things that set my hair on fire about a BBC article that details various companies' banning certain words on their premises.
Apply for a job at Davio’s, a small chain of Italian-style steakhouses in the US, and you’ll never hear one extremely common workplace term: employee. That’s because CEO Steve DiFillippo has banned its use.
“I think ‘employee’ is an awful word,” he says. “Who wants to be an employee? It just isn’t something you strive toward.” Instead, those who work for DiFillippo are known as ‘inner guests.’
The obvious Orwellian "newspeak" is part of it, I suppose. But worse than that, from where I sit, is 1. the fact that there are idiots who actually buy into this upbeat pablum and 2. the fact that the reporting agency (the BBC in this case) makes no mention of the fact that the sole beneficiary of this linguistic corruption are the owners of the businesses that apply the thumb screws. If you use nice words, lower wages are less noticeable.
Company-wide bans have usually dealt with words or phrases that could bring negative associations to a brand. Documents released in 2014 as part of a General Motors' settlement with the US government revealed that the company had coached engineers to avoid 69 incendiary words and phrases, including ‘defect,’ ‘flawed’ and ‘death trap.’
I guess the signs will soon go up: "No English-speakers Need Apply." Everything will be one big Oriental group hug and translators will be in high demand ... though the word "translator" may be a bit too strong. 

1 comment:

  1. The page also links to a story on ludicrous job titles, an apparent effort to humanize and enthuse the worker.

    "Recruitment website believes meaningless suffixes like “ninja” “rockstar” or “guru” tacked on to relevant descriptive terms like “database” or “coding” – while ostensibly harmless to those in the know – are alienating. They also risk infantilising highly intelligent professionals in the same way that putting hammocks and slides in offices does."

    "Even established job titles cause confusion. As of June 2017, major employers like Sky, Ovo Energy and American Express were among the thousands to post job adverts for the position of “scrum master” – a software development role, similar in scope to a project manager. Yet a nationally representative study of 1,000 British adults, with which I assisted, found that 75% of British adults thought “scrum master” was a fake job title, or didn’t know for sure if it was real. The study found that some of the more widely advertised tech job titles were not only meaningless to outsiders, but were actually deemed “implausible”."

    With such outcomes, who can pick up the classifieds and find a job? Recruitment companies will be needed just for the inside information that could translate titles to actual skill sets. It's strikes me as similar to removing public drinking fountains, ostensibly for health reasons, that force folks to buy over priced bottles of water.