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The dangers of wokery

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The dangers of wokery

Yesterday we praised M&S for its latest turnaround – this one might even stick – and noted the seemingly close connection between good comms and business success.

Lurking in the background for the retailer – and all big public facing companies – is the tricky issue of gender pronouns.

M&S recently invited staff to add their preferred pronouns to name badges, a move that “did not meet with universal enthusiasm”, reported the Daily Telegraph.

The headline ran: “How M&S became a woke joke.”

All of this stuff is a HR and PR nightmare, it seems to me.

Let’s assume that the traditional M&S customer thinks wokery is well overdone. But that their children think it’s a vital part of the drive to equality.

How do businesses sit in the middle of this? Uncomfortably, I think.

For one thing, the language is hard to keep up with and the chances of getting it wrong are high.

Some phrases from that Telegraph piece: “compelled speech”, “belief discrimination”, “gender ideology pronouns”.

What is belief discrimination? Is it you demonstrating that I am wrong, and me getting upset about it?

The core of the hack and flak trade is supposed to be clear communications. Words almost anyone can understand, even if the subject matter is complex.

Wokery might have advantages, but it makes clarity very difficult.

Press release of the day

Research here from Wright Hassall into employment tribunals, which shows that since 2020 UK workers have made 23,000 complaints for unfair dismissal.

Overwork is the second top reason for a tribunal, followed by unauthorised wage docking and age discrimination.

I predict lots more tribunals coming over the right to WFH…

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