Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Forbidden Words

George Carlin a few years ago had a comedy routine about the 7 words you can’t say on television. It was extremely funny especially when he added his sound track to “bleep” out those words. That routine needs to be revised since those words for the most part can be said on radio and sometimes on televisions. Perhaps if George were employed in today’s Corporate America he would revise his routine to include the “Forbidden Words of Corporate America”

While working at a major mutual fund in the great Northeast, I took part in the firm’s “Diversity Committee”. Now we all know that a camel is a horse that was designed by a committee. The Diversity Committee’s mission was to promote diversity while helping the firm meet it’s EEOC requirements. Since on my Team I had an African-American Female Veteran who was Disabled and married a Hispanic thus having a Hispanic surname I was a well qualified manager, after all I identified that she represented 5 points in just one human body even though she was dumber than a stump, could not show up on time, was late returning from lunch and spent most of her day on personal phone calls. She did however know how to leave work on time.

On the Diversity Committee I learned there were certain “Forbidden Words” in the work place. These words are acceptable at home or even in some social gatherings but not in Cooperate America. A prime example of this was when I asked an employee if he had a nice Easter. Simple huh? No I was reprimanded for using the work EASTER. You can ask about the weekend, “Did you do drugs over the week or get drunk” but never ask about EASTER or any religious holiday. (i.e. Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Child’s Baptism, Chanukah, , Rosh Hashanah, etc.)

At Christmas time oops Winter Solstice we had a Holiday Tree. No Angels, no Shepherds, Wiseman or Christ Child. The company choir sang Holiday Carols (non-religious of course) and we had a Winter Solstice Party usually a Circus under the big top. I was not allowed to wish my Team Merry Christmas or Happy Chanukah. CHRISTMAS and CHANUKAH are additional Forbidden Words. But Kwanzaa was ok and managers were to encourage employees to take part in the Kwanzaa services.

In the course of business you could however say God damn or Jesus Christ and when your really mad Jesus F$%#ing Christ but never, never talk about going to worship God or Jesus. So I found two more Forbidden Words GOD and JESUS.

To be sure, Corporate America is redefining itself all the time. New buzzwords or phrases appear all the time. Words like World Global Markets, going forward, catalyst, or quadrix are the rage. Rather than adding words to our vocabulary, perhaps it is time for old George to revise his routine to what words can’t be said in today Corporate World.

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