Saturday, July 01, 2006

For us at our Home ...!

In our company we welcome diversity in the workplace. Our workforce is drawn from as diverse a set of backgrounds as any you will find in Uganda. To illustrate we have Tourism, Commerce , Business Computing & IT, Social Science and Mass Communication undergraduates and graduates doing our Clent Relations, Event management and Public Relations, we’ve had trained chefs in charge of our Graphics and a self proclaimed “electrical engineer” in charge of making sure the office is clean, we have sugar, samosas, bread, doughnuts and the coffee machine is working. No, we are not off our rocker, we hire people for the talents they bring to the table; afterall we are a company that thrives on the above mentioned talents for their immeasurable wealth in creativity, innovation, drive and enthusiasm for the job. Lest you wonder, we have real accountants and IT personnel in the Finance & IT departments.

Therefore a company that hires people on those sort of strengths inevitably becomes a sort of mini United Nations, such is the breadth of the pool of talent that we fish in. if you’re good at what you do, we will find you and bring you in. You are not safe from us, wherever you are. Lets see, to date we have had, working for us, both in the past and currently; Ugandans, Kenyans, Tanzanians, Burundians, Americans, Swedes of Ugandan origin, Ugandans of Afghan origin – yes seriously, Ugandans of Asian origin, Ethiopians, Kenyans of Japanese origin; well actually that should be Japanese of Kenyan origin – she was born and raised in Japan by Kenyan parents, Ugandans who fancy themselves as Americans, and Canadians. To my dismay we have not yet had a Rwandese babe working for us but it is only a matter of time. Good things come to those who wait.

All these different kettles of fish of course bring their own foibles into the office and while we are by no means jaded seen-it-all cynics, we have become accustomed to;
1. The eating habits of North Americans – twice as fast as anyone else at the table, such ka-sigiri!
2. The general scruffiness of Kenyans, “… tie & jacket? Ati what? Aren’t my jeans clean enough? …”
3. The kajanja of Ugandans, “ … its lunchtime, I don’t make calls at lunchtime…” munange, this is the private sector, not Uganda Posts & Telecommunications Corporation, and you’re the receptionist, make the call!
4. The francophone sophistication of Burundians, I especially loved the 3 pecks greeting part but as for the insistence on bread and wine, croissants and Beaujolais, on the table before dinner … well, different folks, different strokes.
5. The laid back demeanor of Tanzanians, one time Olivia – she sez hi - walked up to this Tz dude seated at her PC and sort of coughed in this “bugger off my desk” sorta way. He turned round and ever so politely asked, “U … need to do some work?” I collapsed into my mug of coffee in helpless paroxysms of laughter
6. the bu-habits of Ugandans who’ve lived in the US too long, like instead of saying “conversation” they say “conversating” and then they’re like lactose intolerant, how can u be lactose intolerant when u’re a muHima from Kashaari? Thats like being an ugly Ethiopian! Anyone know one? Cause I do not.
7. now for the Swede, the ex-graphics guy, we once asked him where his village was; it was election time last year and we were sorta trying to see who’s village would be the nearest to go to for the weekend. When he hesitated to answer, we, the other graphics guy and I just sorta smiled and chorused, “Gothenburg!” what a laugh that was … sorry Peter. We know you’re really from somewhere in Maa – saka - the way u pronounce it.
8. The Canadian walked in with a ring through his nostril, one in his ear, a Kabbalah-ish looking string on his wrist and a tattoo of a Zambian river god on his back; my first thought was, “this is the dude we’re sending to the Government ministries to discuss statutory requirements for the establishment of a tourism consultancy! I’m going with him” I never tired of the look every time we walked into some Commissioner’s office; their eyes would widen ever so slightly and then, mouth slightly agape, they’d turn to me, in shirt and tie, for reassurance upon which I’d introduce Gerrit and let him do his thing, my desire for pleasurable amusement having been sated.
9. Then there are the ones (Ugandans of course) who’ve been to the UK, always going on about the exorbitant cost of quality stuff at Woolworths and Knights Polo in Garden City. Dude, we know you used to shop at TK Maxx, Next, Zara, Primark and Debenhams. Get over it and go on down to Owino, they have the same stuff for a fraction of the price.
10. But the highlight of this week for me has to be the American who’s sent out one of those “Employee Satisfaction Survey” forms. They’ve asked on page 4, and I reproduce here (with my immediate responses);


Sexual Harassment
Have you ever been sexually harassed (unwanted sexual comments, jokes, advances) in the workplace? I’m sorry, what?
Have you ever witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace? We’re all the same age, average 25, we’re all upwardly mobile, thinking about getting our first car, our own flat, how to earn an income on the side so we can buy the new Nokia N-series, why its Olivia’s turn to buy chilli crisps, why that Czech ref from the Brazil vs. Ghana match should be castrated;
at which point would u refer to our constant juvenile banter as sexual harassment?
Besides the staff rules, Rule No. 11 expressly prohibit dating “Company X does not encourage dating and romantic relationships among staff members and also between staff members and clients. This causes conflict of interest and compromises the ability to be objective on the part of the part of the employees involved in such relationships.”
And also, taking into account how long and hard we work, who has the time to be sexually harassing someone when u’re pissed at them half the time cause they either want a report from you, yesterday – on top of your already overloaded plate, or haven’t finished writing that strategy you asked for 2 days ago?
Do you believe it is a significant problem that our office faces? No. we have serious issues to deal with, like the lack of training opportunities, the need 4 a clear cut leadership structure, flagging business, reduced staff morale, the weekend deadline on the Sports Program proposal, my long overdue pay raise … shall I go on?
What suggestions, if any, do you recommend to eradicate this behavior at Company X? Sigh … I respect what you’re trying to achieve here. Right now it is not a priority for me. Shall we move on?


For the record, I asked Olivia if she has been sexually harassed and she know how she responded? She threw her head back and burst out laughing like a demented hyena!


Blogger ish said...

eh, but u guy, where do u work?? (i've been mentally making lists and eliminating companies, i'm baffled)

Sat Jul 01, 08:19:00 pm  
Blogger joshi said...

but is olivia that bad as u make her out to be!!!! naye deg,cut her some slack!!

Sun Jul 02, 12:15:00 am  
Blogger Jay said...

I have a feeling Deg works somewhere in Bukoto. I just think.

Multinational workplace. Id like to have a feel of that.

Sun Jul 02, 03:34:00 pm  
Anonymous baz said...

Where does dude work? Well, he says people be qualified and talented so that rules out the police and local government...

Sun Jul 02, 08:59:00 pm  

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