Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Political Correctness At The Workplace
Here is a first person account of a white collar worker's jaunt to a "sexual harassment conference" in California. He has reservations about "political correctness" training - one of which is his objection to the corporate assimilation of academic buzzwords like "political correctness" when corporations already bandy about enough buzzwords as it is. When not having his intelligence insulted "with common sense advice like, 'Don't joke about spanking'", he reflects on the real place of such training on the corporate agenda. He remarks that it serves more to deflect legal culpability than to actually make workers more sincere and sensitive - "that the stick waved in front of us was the threat of lawsuit and company liability, rather than the carrot of realizing an office-place paradise, where employees are hard-working and passionate, and managers are forward-thinking and supportive." He adds that "plausible deniability is the key, and so long as you can show proper protocol was followed, it's less about justice or fairness and more about the $65 million word corporations fear most: liability."
He also believes that a focus on mere political correctness keeps corporate attitudes towards social reality on a superficial level. "So long as the superficial is policed," he says, "there's little pressure to instigate progressive change." Moreover, he suspects that the emphasis on surface politeness is a stealth strategy for suppressing legitimate dissent. In his words, "political correctness often seems best at neutering the forthright and critical, if not always tactful, than fanning any inclination for mutual acceptance and societal well being. As a result, the rest of us must acquiesce to a somewhat silly pageant, in which we nod sympathetically at very polite speakers telling us things we should have learned in kindergarten. It's difficult not to feel stupid, but then maybe that's not a wholly unintended consequence. Infantilizing the modern workforce with mandatory sensitivity training seems like an effective way to indoctrinate 21st century office culture to not rock the boat."
"Sexual healing vs. societal change - the office is a battlefield" Ledger-Dispatch (Sacramento)