After much acclaim for her first SteynOnline contribution, Australian Mark Steyn Club member Kate Smyth returns with this take on the wokeification of the western workplace.
“We live in a truly odd time where nobody can be fired for actually being inept at their job but everyone can be fired for a clumsy social media post.” –Dennis Miller
Though if you’re a Democrat governor, wearing blackface back in medical school and making self-incriminating comments about “post-birth abortion” aren’t necessarily career-ending.
But for everyone else, Big Boss has the power to deprive you of your livelihood if your politically incorrect views (whether online or off) are deemed “to bring the organisation into disrepute”. Workers in the Age of Woke are expected to follow their leaders and commit to Diversity-Inclusivity-Equity and #SocialResponsibility – or risk opprobrium. And sacking.
In every field, across the public and private sectors, this top-down utopianism and its enforcement are now core business: A competent and productive workforce is secondary to a right-thinking one. (Indeed, “workplace diversity” trumps even workplace safety.)
For their part (and in order to get ahead) workers are expected to dedicate themselves to the cause full-time, whether clocked-on or not: Wokeplace officialdom is omnipresent. Nowadays, the tentacles of the ubiquitous “Code of Conduct” are finding their way into every corner of life, 24/7, and constraining the freedoms of private individuals faced with the spectre of imperilled job security.
In a compelling analysis of the phenomenon of “Private Government” – as distinct from power wielded by the state – it’s suggested that, increasingly, “our rights as workers are not like our rights as citizens“. Moreover, the coercive control associated with modern workplace relations and institutions is attributed to…
“… managers’ arbitrary and unaccountable authority. The breadth of that authority is extremely wide, leaving workers vulnerable to being fired for speech and conduct far removed from their workplaces.”
In her overarching thesis, author Elizabeth Anderson equates the modern-day governance of workers in the West with “communist dictatorships in our midst”, and cites a striking statistic:
“Millions are pressured by their employers to support particular political causes…”
Who would’ve guessed? Well, it’s over 20 years since Mark Steyn penned the premonitory words Celebrate Diversity (Or Else) – a perfect distillation of what we know to be true but don’t really talk about. What’s universally “understood” throughout the Woke West is that bosses, managers, boards and regulators are in lockstep on the approved ideological positions of our time – and have a role in propagating them. On a wide range of identitarian and progressive political issues, organisations take on activism in areas bearing no relationship to their true purpose, impinging on the fundamental freedoms of the individual worker. The implicit expectation is that subordinates will forgo their own personal codes of conduct for the collective, righteous good. Or else!
For anyone who missed the memo, the message (to borrow the reality TV catchphrase) is clear: You’re fired! Every week brings new reports of the latest list of casualties – many unknown, and some high-profile. A textbook case of this wokeplace totalitarianism is the destruction of Australian rugby star and evangelical Christian Israel Folau. Well before his troubles with biblical citations on social media, Folau became a target in 2017 when he made known his intention to vote “no” to same-sex marriage legalisation – in direct conflict with the corporate campaign led by the national team’s major sponsor, Qantas. In the lead up to voting, the airline’s gay CEO, Alan Joyce, was behind directives such as distinctive “Acceptance Rings” to be worn by Qantas staff and affiliates until the oppression of hetero-exclusive nuptials was legally rectified. Coercion much?
Show-Pride-in-the-Workplace-and-beyond has been a continuing crusade by Qantas, notwithstanding that its CEO is comfortable partnering his airline with Emirates. (Penalty for same-sex sexual activity in the UAE, according to Wikipedia: imprisonment, chemical castration, torture, execution, deportation. In that order.) Despite having no such hostility towards gays, Folau has been sacked – and permanently expunged from both codes of rugby at the instruction of various moral arbiters in the governing hierarchy.
Sending the message – with Pride! – that Christians can go to hell.
In keeping with double standards (see picture at right), while Folau’s alleged “anti-gay”, “go-to-hell” message is career-ending, the LGBTQ anti-Christian message is widely celebrated. The godbotherer is punished for “causing offence”, while the gays are free to do so: The diversity – and offence-taking – is only one-way. This fact was not lost on (unexpected) supporters of Folau such as the former president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, who asserted that his sacking was “foolish and disproportionate” and that “it was not very wise for employers to use the power of the employment contract to impose principles which do not find a place within the legal system.” (Note to Triggs: “human rights” commissions are also foolish and disproportionate – and should be disband.) Folau, meanwhile, awaits his day in the High Court of Australia where the matter of his individual rights and contractual obligations (and the part played by sponsors) will be tested.
Whatever the outcome, job termination for expressing an “incorrect” view is a recurring theme in the so-called free world. Words have become occupational hazards. If quoting the Bible, even off-duty, is a sackable offence, the policing of language, opinion and belief – and facts – will be more ruthless in the years ahead. When workplace commissars build Care Regimes and wield unlimited power, even a pronoun misstep or similar infraction could mean never working again.
The highly illiberal nature of workplace wokeness, with its neo-Stalinist version of “corrective” exile, should ring alarm bells. Reforms are much-needed – not least of all so everyone can get back to work. And maybe even do it well.
Unlike the modern workplace, here at SteynOnline we welcome rigorous debate and discussion. Let Kate know what you think in the comment section, a privilege reserved for Mark Steyn Club members. There are other perks as well, so do consider joining up if you haven’t already. Also, don’t forget we are still booking cabins for next year’s Third Annual Mark Steyn Cruise, which calls on Rome, Monte Carlo, Gibraltar and Cartagena among other stops.