Sunday, October 17, 2010

Firing speaks louder than outrage

I'm slightly bemused to see newspapers still devoting serious analysis to the ramifications for women in the business world of the catfight on last week's episode of The Apprentice. The controversy started with Karren Brady's boardroom outburst at the candidates "letting themselves down" as role models for their gender - but that anger might have seemed a tad less synthetic if Alan Sugar hadn't then gone on to fire just about the only person who hadn't significantly contributed to the stooshie (specifically for remaining too quiet), and had Brady not gone on to back that decision to the hilt. It seemed even more perverse given that the 'project manager' Laura had made a key mistake that was clearly decisive in her team's defeat (refusing to grant exclusivity on their product to Boots), but had been subsequently let off the hook by Sugar solely on the grounds that her team had been unmanageable. How, then, could he possibly justify his decision not to fire someone who had actually been responsible for the arguments?

In truth, if the candidates hadn't been tearing each other's hair out in the boardroom, Sugar would have been goading them to do just that - as we've seen on many, many previous occasions. For all the going-through-the-motions of piously branding the catfight "outrageous", it's clear that as far as actual firing offences in Sugar-world is concerned, being relatively polite and civilised is the far graver sin. There's no mystery as to where the women were taking their cue from.

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