Drooling on the Pillow

Monday, May 23, 2005

Just Asking 

The Goddess came home with an interesting story today.

I've blogged about her hospital job where they have actors pretend to be patients. She also runs the all day sessions for new employees. This is a massive hospital and there are several hundred new employees a week. At one point during the day either the CEO or the COO comes in and yammers on about what hot stuff the hospital is for about ten minutes.

Today it was the COO, undoubtedly an upper six figure guy. At one point he was using Richard Simmons to make an analogy about the hospital's growth. He suddenly looked like something had gone down the wrong pipe and changed the subject.

A couple of hours later the head of education tracked Lane down and said the COO wanted to talk to her. She figured she was getting canned but couldn't imagine why.

It turns out the guy had been stewing in his office all day, worried that his Richard Simmons remark had been 'inappropriate' and 'insensitive' and might have offended somebody. He wanted Lane to tell him if he should come back and apologize to the new people. Most of whom are on the janitorial staff. A lot of them probably weren't following his remarks fully as they had been in English. But a few of them were, admittedly, overweight.

Just think. Ten years ago it wouldn't have occurred to anyone that he was being offensive. Twenty years ago he might have pointed to a heavy person and said "Okay, dumptruck, you need to lose the lard if you want to stay on staff." Not saying that's a good thing, but I've seen as bad.

My question: is the corporate culture so saturated with political correctness that the COO really was agonizing in guilt or was he agonizing in fear as charges of insensitivity are the one area where the big boys are vulnerable?
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