WEAK AT THE TOP: John Weak's Diary

WEAK AT THE TOP: John Weak's Diary - MONDAY

by John Weak, who can be contacted at john.weak@smokehouse.co.uk
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


As our weirdo HR director is just a tired old hippy, we've got in a smooth new HR manager called Michael Gabriel. He's a career HR professional (which means he hasn't had a career) and he's so touchy-feely you feel coached when he walks past you in the corridor. He's already learned everyone's first name and uses it approximately four times a minute. Bill Peters has somehow persuaded him that his first name is Vernon and we all piss ourselves every time he breezes past and says to Bill: 'How's it going, Vernon?' Usually, when someone new arrives in HR we get an initiative on including people in the same way that when we get someone new in Finance we get an initiative on sacking people.


First signs of activity from the angel Gabriel. Sir Marcus announced we should be raising the bar on inclusivity. I pointed out that this would make it extremely difficult for those in a wheelchair. He gave me one of his bonus-shrivelling looks. We basically have to include everyone who, for good reasons, has decided to steer well clear of us as an organisation. Getting them into Smokehouse is harder than pulling in new customers, and for the same reason: they know they'll get a much better deal elsewhere. Had a long lunch with Vernon in Mr Bojangles, where we turned a great deal of wine into water and agreed that men permanently stuck in HR are more than likely to be dancing at the other end of the ballroom.


Sir Marcus (ie, the archangel Gabriel) has demanded that all departments audit their gender mix, which is a bit of a busman's holiday for me, as I spend most of my waking hours auditing our gender mix, especially the ones with decent charlies. We have lots of women in marketing, but generally at the junior babe level. When their necks start to get leathery we send them to operations, where looks don't matter because you're generally covered head to foot in engine oil. Except of course for my new secretary Elizabeth, who is plain but efficient, like a Honda. You can trust her with a knife in one hand and your manhood in the other, but let's face it, if she were an animal, you wouldn't pay to see her. Having a plain secretary shows I'm committed to inclusivity because however much self-development she has, she'll still be ugly.


Sir Marcus told me he didn't want Celeste Nibelle presenting our gender audit results. That was a spanner in the works as she can present on anything and a male audience will remember nothing. She's half-French and so qualifies as ethnically challenged, and she's also got the best-built bod in Christendom (and other faith-based regions). A woman in possession of a body like hers is like a third world country having nuclear weapons; it's very dangerous. In the past I've suggested we have a burqua day so that she'd cover herself up and we'd get some work done.


After a quick word with Vernon, we came up with a plan for the Marketing presentation. We sent Celeste down to Finance and told her to ask one of their junior nerds to show her his most impressive spreadsheets. That's like top totty asking a trainspotter if she could flick through his spotter's book. It causes confusion and excitement in equal measure. She then gave him our people data and asked him to turn it into some exciting and detailed spreadsheets, all in the smallest point size he could work in without blinding himself. I used the finished articles to present on marketing diversity for an hour and half before the angel Gabriel was rendered comatose. If you want to baffle HR show them numbers, and if you want to baffle Finance show them people. Or as Celeste would say, plus ca change, plus ca meter de parking.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

What are Simon Roberts’ big 3 challenges at Sainsbury’s?

The grocer's new CEO has taken the reins at a critical time.

Should CEOs get political?

The protests that have erupted over George Floyd’s murder have prompted a corporate chorus of...

“You literally have to rewrite your job description”

One minute briefing: In hard times, your network becomes more important than ever, says Prezi...

5 bad habits to avoid when leading remotely

In a crisis, it can be hard to recognise when you've taken your eye off...

A top-level guide to scenario planning

COVID creates unprecedented uncertainty, but there are tried and tested ways of preparing for an...

Is it favouritism to protect an employee no one likes?

The Dominic Cummings affair shows the dangers of double standards, but it’s also true that...