Pot-au-feu

I’m not surprised by this:

The ex-boss of France Telecom and six other former executives have gone on trial in Paris, accused of moral harassment linked to a spate of suicides among employees.

Didier Lombard and his fellow defendants deny their tough restructuring measures were to blame for the subsequent loss of life.

The company, since renamed Orange, is also on trial for the same offence.

Thirty-five staff took their lives between 2008 and 2009.

Some of them left messages blaming France Telecom and its managers.

At the time, the newly privatised company was in the throes of a major reorganisation. Mr Lombard was trying to cut 22,000 jobs and retrain at least 10,000 workers.

Some employees were transferred away from their families or left behind when offices were moved, or assigned demeaning jobs.

The French management style – or what passes for one – consists of appointing the best students from the grandes écoles to the top management positions regardless of industry experience. While these individuals are undoubtedly very bright, they often lack the emotional intelligence which genuine leaders have in abundance. They set up a top-down command-and-obey organisation in which absolute obedience from subordinates is demanded, or their careers abruptly ended. Promotion and advancement is based on the degree to which an individual has not fallen foul of the boss. It is probably as close to an Asian power model as can be found in Europe.

The problem is the French are not Asians, and the stress this puts on employees is immense. During France’s golden era of industrialisation this probably didn’t matter as the organisations were doing well, but as globalisation is forcing companies to adapt or die, French management has been found wanting time and again. Total, for example, is a company with operations in 131 countries yet retains French as its official working language for the convenience of those in headquarters and to preserve an outdated model of cultural identity. French management, in parallel with their political counterparts who are drawn from the same schools and with whom swapping positions is commonplace (see here again), are proving incapable of doing the job which is assigned to them. Their response is to take it out on the employees.

One might argue that France Telecom needed to lay those workers off, but they might have witnessed a decade of blithering managerial incompetence prior to that decision, making retrenchment a bitter pill to swallow. And if you’ve hung around French companies as long as I have, you’ll know these suicides don’t just happen in times of redundancies; we used to hear the stories filtering down at my last place of work. I also know at least one case where a complaint of harcèlement moral was brought to HR concerning a manager, and their response was to do whatever was necessary to protect the management. I suspect this is commonplace; little wonder French unions still enjoy high membership rates.

I suspect as the large French companies come under increasing competitive pressure from globalisation, the failings of their managerial cadres are going to get more pronounced. Sadly, it will be the ordinary workers who pay the price.

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Sums of a Preacher Man

Yesterday I went to a startup hub – basically a building where budding entrepreneurs pay low rent to work and hang out – to watch about eight presentations by people looking for investment. Each entrepreneur had 6 minutes to make their pitch and a further 4 to answer questions, so it was a bit like Dragon’s Den only instead of multi-millionaire dragons they had a gaggle of students, professors, mates, and folk who came along for the free craft beer.

The first thing I noticed was out of the 70-odd people there, only two were in a suit and tie: me and one of my professors. The rest looked to have come from an office job where they don’t meet outsiders, or straight from the pub downstairs. Those pitching for investment – from between 100k-300k euros, so not trivial sums – dressed as though that’s where they were headed immediately afterwards. I watched a lot of episodes of Dragon’s Den, and one of the things which drove Peter Jones nuts was people wandering out in jeans and a t-shirt and asking him for a million quid. I raised this afterwards with a couple of people and was told young people just don’t dress up like that any more. Which I am sure is true, but do the young people get any investors to part with their cash? Last night they didn’t appear to have anyone reaching for their wallets, even to pay for drinks.

Their disheveled looks probably weren’t the main problem, though. That would be their general business sense and their ideas of how to make money. It took me two pitches to spot the problem. Climate change, environmentalism, and sustainability nowadays seemingly infests every area of business life, and nobody seems capable of shutting up about it. If someone is trying to sell you coffee, they speak for ten seconds about the quality of the coffee and for ten minutes on how much they care for the environment. Decades of incessant brainwashing has worked well, and environmentalism truly is the new religion. There are a couple of problems with this, however. Firstly, it assumes that their entire customer base consists of the western middle-classes who are rich and woke enough to run around fretting about a dolphin they saw on TV offshore Bora Bora with a biro stuck up its nostril. While the number of customers eagerly checking the fine print on the back of the packet to make sure there were no orangutans killed in the making of this particular batch of organic, freshly-squeezed kumquat juice is undoubtedly growing, most people still just want a cheap product that works and doesn’t contain arsenic. And there is a big difference between not wanting to turn pristine nature into Norilsk and worrying about whether a product’s carbon footprint is a little too large. Most customers are in the former category, whereas the latter are a wealthy niche.

Secondly, it assumes environmentalism is an end it itself, and not just another trade off between competing resources. Remember this post I wrote about reusable carrier bags, where I referenced a Danish study which showed they were worse for the environment that single-use bags? As I said at the time, very few people, particularly the dim middle classes who campaign for environmental legislation, understand that recycling is an industrial process like any other only with different inputs. So a lot of these business ideas I heard yesterday took an existing process:

Production  – Use – Landfill or Incineration

and turned it into:

Production – Use – Recycle – Production

And assumed that simply because it’s being recycled it must by definition be good for the environment. But this is only true if the resources consumed during the recycling are less than those consumed making the stuff using fresh inputs, and that the pollution generated during recycling is less than using a landfill or an incinerator. Otherwise, by definition, they’re making things worse. Did I see any such calculation and comparison? Did I hell. No, the assumption was that recycling must always by definition be better for the environment.

Several of the business ideas involved a recycling process which involved driving around collecting tens of thousands of objects, transporting them back to what can only be described as a large industrial facility guzzling power, water, and other raw materials. The objects are then processed using chemicals and a sizeable amount of human capital, with each person having to somehow get to work everyday. Nobody seemed to have understood the impact this will have on the environmental calculation, let alone the economics of the whole thing. It was just presented as “Recycling! Sustainable! Yay!”

So what we were dealing with wasn’t businessmen but ideologues. It looked more like a hippy commune than a startup incubator. At half-time a chap came on stage and said the world is headed for catastrophe if we don’t stop using resources at the current rate, because we’ll simply run out. That basic economics would tell us otherwise went unmentioned, as did the old trope that the stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stone. He said their task was to persuade everyone “we need to change our lives and our behaviours”, which sounded a lot more like the basis of an evangelical religion than a business. Maybe that explains the frequent appeal for angel investors? He then said the plan was to approach big business and persuade them of this need to change, and to embrace environmentalism and sustainability. At this point I wondered where he’d been living the past fifteen years. Since I have been working, big business has fully embraced environmentalism and sustainability, that’s all they go on about. They have whole departments devoted to haranguing their employees to turn off the lights, reduce emissions, cut down on waste, and spend millions on PR showing everyone how green they are. What does this chap think he’s going to find in a major corporation, top-hatted men opening oil wells into rivers for just for fun?

And that’s the problem. These lot were supposed to be startups promoting new business ideas, but instead they were selling old political ideology. The product was environmentalism, their business just the vehicle it was riding on. It probably wouldn’t surprise you that I later learned this startup hub received a chunk of its funding from the government. In other words, it’s another lefty middle class racket. Did I mention my wallet stayed in my pocket all evening?

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Who’s the new girl?

A reader alerts me to the existence of a listed company called Regeneration Rethought – U+I. Aside from having a name which makes ChangeUK The Independent Group sound catchy, we learn they are:

a property developer and investor focused on regeneration.

with:

a £9.5 billion+ portfolio of complex, mixed-use, community focused regeneration projects including a £145.7 million investment portfolio in the London City Region, Manchester and Dublin.

So they’re a multi-billion dollar property development outfit. Okay, fair enough. On 3rd April 2019, they appointed a new non-executive director, Professor Sadie Morgan. Here’s what the press release said:

The role will oversee delivery of U+I’s commitments to community engagement in PPP projects, as well as also oversee the establishment of a workforce advisory panel, in accordance with new governance regulations, to support employee engagement and membership of an internal design panel – all intended to reinforce U+I’s commitments to talent, creativity and community.

Ah, so this company is big into PPP – public-private partnerships – whereby the government gets capital expenditure off its books by signing dubious long-term contracts with favoured companies to provide government services.

Prof. Morgan is a founding director of dRMM Architects and Stirling prize winner. And she is Professor of professional practice at Westminster University. She chairs the Independent Design Panel for High Speed 2, reporting directly to the Secretary of State, and is one of ten commissioners for the National Infrastructure Commission. Prof. Morgan is also one of the Mayor’s Design Advocates for the Greater London Authority.

Ah yes, High Speed 2, that shining example of slick project execution and sound financial stewardship. And how handy that someone so close to government decision-makers in the fields of property development and planning should find themselves on the board of a large private property developer! So what will Prof. Morgan bring to the table in return for her undoubtedly hefty pay packet, aside from a direct line to the decision-makers in local government?

“I am delighted to be taking on this ground-breaking role. I was brought up in a co-operative community in Kent that had been set up by my grandfather, and so I grew up with a real sense of inclusion, purpose, community and responsibility. This appointment allows me to help U+I turn those beliefs and commitments into action involving what will, I am sure, be major schemes of huge importance to the communities involved.”

Paragraphs of leaden, jargon-filled corporate-speak which reads as though it were churned out by an algorithm created by someone who grew up in locked shed with a nothing but a pile of local government newsletters for entertainment. But it’s not all bad news: we don’t need to worry ourselves about human trafficking or slavery:

U+I believes that the detection and reporting of slavery and human trafficking is the responsibility of all employees. During the year all employees were required to undertake specific training with regards to Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking. In addition, all new employees are required to complete this training as part of their induction process. Should any employee have a suspicion of slavery or human trafficking in any part of the business or supply chain they are encouraged to raise this at the earliest opportunity.

Why do I get the impression this is more serving the interests of those giving the training than anyone being enslaved or trafficked?

We are committed to ensuring that human trafficking and slavery play no part in any activities carried out by U+I or our supply chain.

That’s a relief, but why use slaves anyway when you have taxpayers?

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ScumOfUs

Yesterday I received yet another email (I get a lot of them these days) from one of the thousands of hard-left political campaign groups masquerading as a charity:

International consumer watchdog SumOfUs has filed a shareholder resolution proposing that Mastercard establish a committee on human rights, to address the threat posed by far-right extremists.

The resolution highlights that extremists like Tommy Robinson and known far-right hate groups use Mastercard, but none of the company’s existing board committees have responsibility for overseeing human rights issues. Shareholders argue that this leaves the company exposed to risk on human rights.

One would have thought a consumer watchdog looked out for the interests of consumers rather than attempt to silence political figures by forcing companies to withdraw services from them, but then Oxfam was supposed to help hungry people not organise gang-bangs with destitute teenagers in Haiti.

Eoin Dubsky, Campaign Manager at SumOfUs, said: “We know that Mastercard currently accepts credit card payments to several dangerous hate groups and extremists like Tommy Robinson. This proves that its executives cannot currently manage the human rights risks associated with the business.

“We were alarmed when the corporation mounted a legal challenge against our resolution. It would have done better to put the time and resources spent on fighting our proposal into addressing legitimate concerns that its consumers, employees and shareholders have about human rights. 

“As we’ve seen to such devastating effect in recent months, gone unchecked, hate speech has terrible consequences for innocent people. We look to all corporations to play their part in ensuring their services and products aren’t used to sow the seeds of discrimination, hatred and violence. It is essential that companies like Mastercard have the policies and processes in place to deal effectively with hate speech and human rights abuses.”

Under the guise of protecting human rights, this outfit wants to remove essential services from anyone who disagrees with their hard-left political viewpoint. Now Mastercard is one of the most woke corporations out there and, if the internet is to be believed, behind the deplatforming of several wrongthinkers from Patreon and PayPal. That they have swatted away the demands of this particular group of nutters suggests even they might be wondering where this is all heading. If Mastercard were to start withdrawing services from existing customers because of their political views, they might suddenly find 30,000 people maxing out their cards and refusing to pay their bills in an act of “political protest”. That’s going to be a bigger problem than a few edgelords complaining they’ve been kicked off PayPal.

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Dinosaur Petrola

A few weeks ago news broke that Chevron had bought US independent Anadarko for $33bn, the largest oil and gas acquisition since Shell bought BG in 2016, bigger than Total’s acquisition of Maersk Oil in April 2017. The acquisition is obviously done to boost Chevron’s US shale and LNG production, so it’s very much a US-centered affair. It is this passage I want to focus on:

Chevron, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc largely missed out on the first phase of the shale bonanza, when more nimble independent producers such as Anadarko pioneered shale drilling technology and leased Permian acreage on the cheap.

One of the things which surprises me is how slowly the oil majors are reacting to cataclysmic changes in the oil and gas industry. But their lumbering clumsily about in the US shale plays while nimbler outfits cleaned up is really just a sideshow. The real change is in how the oil majors will do business in future. Gone are the days when a supermajor would turn up in a stone-age society, bung the local chiefs some shiny trinkets, and bring in a battalion of palefaces to exploit the reservoir for the next 25 years. Nowadays national governments control pretty much every sizeable oil and gas prospect regardless of which foreign company holds the licence, and nothing is going to get developed in future without the full cooperation of the government or their proxy in the form of a national oil company. This has been the case for some time now, and the past decade or so has seen a rapid increase in local capabilities, whittling away the added value foreigners bring.

In short, oil companies are becoming less owners of an oilfield than service contractors to the real owners, the government. This is an entirely different business model requiring a flatter organisation with strong local subsidiaries who are able to make decisions and do business according to the peculiarities of the region. Thus far, none of the majors have shown much interest in restructuring along these lines, instead growing ever larger and centralising power with a handful of decision-makers cooped up in a gargantuan HQ back in the home country. I expect it is the mind-boggling revenues still being generated from legacy fields which gives them the luxury of ignoring how the industry is changing.

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Hit where it Hertz

Few of my regular readers will be surprised by this story:

The US corporation hired monster management consultancy firm Accenture in August 2016 to completely revamp its online presence. The new site was due to go live in December 2017. But a failure to get on top of things led to a delay to January 2018, and then a second delay to April 2018 which was then also missed, we’re told.

As Hertz endured the delays, it found itself immersed in a nightmare: a product and design that apparently didn’t do half of what was specified and still wasn’t finished. “By that point, Hertz no longer had any confidence that Accenture was capable of completing the project, and Hertz terminated Accenture,” the car rental company complained in a lawsuit [PDF] lodged against Accenture in New York this month.

Hertz is suing for the $32m it paid Accenture in fees to get to that aborted stage, and it wants more millions to cover the cost of fixing the mess. “Accenture never delivered a functional website or mobile app,” Hertz claimed.

The whole thing is worth reading, even if just to reconfirm what most of us already know about the practice of hiring large consulting firms. From getting the basics wrong:

Among the most mind-boggling allegations in Hertz’s filed complaint is that Accenture didn’t incorporate a responsive design, in which webpages automatically resize to accommodate the visitor’s screen size whether they are using a phone, tablet, desktop, or laptop.

To bait-and-switch tactics:

The team working on the project was pulled off by Accenture “but their replacements did not have the same level of experience, and a good deal of knowledge was lost in the transition.

And the inevitable extras:

When the rental giant’s execs asked where the tablet version was, Accenture “demanded hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional fees to deliver the promised medium-sized layout.”

It’s all there.

(Via Tim Almond)

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Notre Damned

Andrew Neil makes the mistake a lot of people make when it comes to contemporary disasters:


I am confident underfunding of the project won’t be the cause: it will have been eye-wateringly expensive. As I’ve written about at length on here, the problem is that modern organisations are infested with managerialism whereby compliance with the latest fad – often government imposed – is given higher priority than making sure the electrics are safe. I’ve seen the compliance hoops contractors have to jump through just to participate in tenders for the public sector and large corporations. Last September commenter Graeme gave us this gem:

“Since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act (MSA) in 2015, UK companies with turnovers above £36m have needed to produce a statement setting out the steps they have taken to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their operations and supply chains. Of the 9,000 to 11,000 companies in scope, all should have published a first statement prominently on a corporate website by September 2017. By March 2018, only 5,600 had done so, according to CORE, a coalition made up of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), academics, lawyers and trade unions that focuses on corporate responsibility.”

Companies nowadays not only have to demonstrate they employ the requisite number of women and aren’t mean to their LGBT employees, but also that their entire supply chain is free of child labour and exploitative practices and they are not helping to perpetuate slavery and human trafficking. This wildly inflates the cost of any project, and keeps dozens of middle class graduates employed giving presentations to one another in air conditioned offices, but adds little value to the job actually getting done. This has reached the point – as we saw with Carillion (1, 2) – that the core business of many large companies nowadays is overcoming the compliance hurdles and buttering up the right people (mainly by employing them in a cosy public-private revolving door system) so they can win contracts. How they then actually go about doing the work is of secondary concern, and most of it will be subcontracted to the lowest bidder. At a guess, the works on Notre Dame were managed by an army of people shuffling paper while the electrics were installed by a contractor who had the lowest bid and spoke Arabic better than he did French. Supervision would have been negligible with QA/QC consisting of a piece of paper signed off by someone who never physically saw the completed works.

This is speculation and I may be wrong of course, but Notre Dame did catch fire and it wasn’t supposed to. Between the entire project being underfunded and a scenario similar to that which I describe above, I know which one I’d choose.

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Change Management

An excellent article on Brexit by Theodore Dalrymple contains this paragraph:

Theresa May did not emerge from a social vacuum. She is typical of the class that has gradually attained power in Britain, from the lowest levels of the administration to the highest: unoriginal, vacillating, humorless, prey to the latest bad ideas, intellectually mediocre, believing in nothing very much, mistaking obstinacy for strength, timid but nevertheless avid for power. Thousands of minor Mays populate our institutions, as thousands of minor Blairs did before them.

The good doctor might not know this, but the rot isn’t just limited to the political classes and national institutions; it extends right through the corporate world too. The description of May could apply seamlessly to any number of managers I’ve encountered throughout my career, just as this could apply to several business units I’ve found myself working in:

Avidity for power is not the same as leadership, and Brexit required leadership.

In my 15 years in the international oil industry I came across very little actual leadership – there were some exceptions – and an awful lot of managers who took the post because it represented the next rung on the ladder and that’s where the system required them to stop for a while. The only thing they cared about was looking good in the eyes of their hierarchy and keeping their nose clean until the next promotion. Their department – its people, processes, and objectives – were seen as an inconvenience in exactly the same way May and the rest of the political classes see the population as an inconvenience.

Yesterday MPs voted to extend the deadline on Article 50 by 313 votes to 312, the winning margin provided by a convicted criminal who attended parliament wearing an ankle bracelet. To the ordinary citizen this is an abomination, but the political classes think they’ve done nothing wrong. I used to see this in the corporate world. We’d do some technical work and the results – usually technical or financial – would make the CEO unhappy, and therefore the middle management look bad. So management would demand the work be redone again and again, abandoning principles, processes, precedents, and best practices, in order to deliver the results they wanted. They’d shop around for whatever methodology would give them the outcome they desired from the beginning, yet convince themselves they were doing things properly. Not once would they reflect on the damage they’d caused to the integrity of their own organisation or the problems they’d encounter in the future. Convinced of their own propriety, they simply didn’t care.

They say politics is downstream of culture, and business is almost certainly downstream of both. The behaviour I describe is so widespread one can only assume it derives from the culture, and has probably always been there. The difference now is the incentives are so aligned that these people get rewarded before everyone else, whereas in previous eras they’d have been shoved to the sidelines by people who operate in a wholly different way. This isn’t just about politics, it’s about the direction the entire society has taken. If things are to change, the incentives to behave badly must be removed and replaced with those which reward different behaviours. Normally that takes both sticks and carrots. As far as I see it, we’re all out of carrots; it’s time to get a bigger stick. Change, in this case, will have to come from the bottom. That means you.

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LGBThee

From Shell’s corporate website:

At Shell, we care about the diversity of our people because we believe that a fully inclusive workplace allows our employees to flourish and so allows our business to flourish.

When our employees excel, we excel. It’s for this reason that we are proud to support our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff, promoting equality for employees regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Also from Shell’s corporate website:

Shell has been active in Brunei since 1929, when the first commercial oil find was made by the British Malayan Petroleum Company, owned by Royal Dutch Shell.

The Company was the forerunner to the present joint-venture company of Brunei Government and Royal Dutch Shell, Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd.

Through the solid partnership between the Government and Royal Dutch Shell, BSP, Brunei LNG (BLNG), Brunei Shell Marketing (BSM), Brunei Shell Tankers (BST)/Brunei Gas Carriers (BGC) form the Brunei Shell Joint Venture (BSJV) companies which constitute the largest employer in Brunei after the government.

Shell Deepwater Borneo (SDB) is a 100% Shell Company that was established in Brunei as a result of Royal Dutch Shell’s acquisition of New Zealand based Fletcher Challenge Energy in 2001.

From The Guardian:

Brunei is to begin imposing death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex and adultery from next week, as part of the country’s highly criticised implementation of sharia law.

From 3 April, people in the tiny south-east Asian kingdom will be subjected to a draconian new penal code, which also includes the amputation of a hand and a foot for the crime of theft. To be convicted, the crimes must be “witnessed by a group of Muslims”.

It was a directive of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who is one of the world’s richest leaders with a personal wealth of about $20bn (£15bn) and has held the throne since 1967. He described the implementation of the new penal code as “a great achievement”.

So Shell demonstrates a firm commitment to LGBT rights via ultra-woke initiatives in places where minorities have been treated without prejudice for at least a decade while they bankroll a monarch who decrees homosexuals must be stoned to death.

Similarly, Total caved in to a shakedown by Accenture and signed (pdf) an LGBT charter along with a whole load of other French companies. Meanwhile, here’s their CEO and other senior executives signing a deal with the Iranian government:

Here’s some news from Iran:

The Islamic Republic of Iran publicly hanged a 31-year-old Iranian man after he was found guilty of charges related to violations of Iran’s anti-gay laws, according to the state-controlled Iranian Students’ News Agency.

The unidentified man was hanged on January 10 in the southwestern city of Kazeroon based on criminal violations of “lavat-e be onf” – sexual intercourse between two men, as well as kidnapping charges, according to ISNA. Iran’s radical sharia law system prescribes the death penalty for gay sex.

While oil company HR departments demand acceptance and celebration of LGBT lifestyles from their staff, their bosses are complicit in propping up the most murderously homophobic regimes on earth. But then moral codes have always been for the plebs while the priestly caste gets a pass, haven’t they?

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Strangers in a strange land

There’s an article in the BBC lamenting that the whole world is designed for men and, having succeeded in their demands to access every workplace in the land, women are finding they’ve not been tailored to suit them.

From police stab vests that don’t account for breasts, to safety goggles too large for women’s faces, to boots that don’t fit women’s feet, Ms Criado Perez says the list is endless.

This reminds me of the oft-heard complaint that there are not enough female film directors, in response to which Tim Almond among others likes to ask: “So what’s stopping them?” The complaint isn’t so much that women are being prevented from making films, it’s that Hollywood studios aren’t handing directing duties on blockbuster films to women. Which isn’t the same thing.

Similarly, what’s stopping a bunch of entrepreneurial women spotting this giant gap in the market for women’s stab vests and safety goggles and touting their wares around every organisation (meaning, all of them) which boasts about their gender diversity? Surely the management would welcome them with open arms and submit an order tout de suite, if only to stem the flood of complaints being submitted to HR. But no, the demand is that people already out there doing stuff should consider their needs more. The individual female employees who’ve been forced to use unsuitable kit have a genuine complaint, but when it’s presented by the BBC as an example of widespread patriarchal indifference it sounds like a bored wife complaining her husband is inconsiderate and doesn’t notice her enough.

Democratic Congresswoman Niki Tsongas at the time called out the military’s unresponsiveness to the needs of female service members, citing the “alarming” disadvantages for women, including being unable to properly fire a weapon, Military.com reported.

Yes, there are women in the US military who can’t fire a weapon properly. We shouldn’t be surprised by this. Of course, the implication here is the weapon should be redesigned to suit women, or women given a different weapon, which would be interesting in a war to say the least. I bet none of this was discussed during the debates over whether women should be allowed to serve in the first place.

From apps to the actual size, there are a number of design features that have made some women say smartphones have been designed with only men in mind.

Women’s hands are, on average, around an inch smaller than men’s – which can make the industry’s ever-increasing screen sizes problematic to use.

Texting one-handed on a 4.7-inch (12cm) or bigger iPhone can be difficult to impossible for many women (and small-handed men).

So they can buy the smaller-sized phone, can’t they? Or do they want the version with the big screen but an option to defy physics during text messaging operations?

“The comprehensive health app on the iPhone that didn’t have a period tracker; the way Siri could find a Viagra supplier but not an abortion provider – that’s what happens when you don’t include women in the decision making process,” Ms Criado Perez says.

Apparently if women are included in the decision-making process they’ll equate aborting a fetus with buying viagra. Could that be the reason why they’re not? And as Tim Almond would say, “Why can’t they build their own abortion app?” It can’t be that hard. What I expect is lacking is demand; how many women really want to arrange their abortions using Siri?

The formula for standard US office temperatures was developed in the 1960s, based on the metabolic rate of an average 40-year-old man weighing 154 pounds (70kg).

A 2015 study published in the journal Nature found that a female metabolic rate can be up to 35% lower than the male rate used in those calculations – which amounts to, on average, a five degree temperature preference difference.

Of course, this has nothing to do with men being required to wear suits in the office while women get to wear nice dresses showing lots of skin. But again, this is an example of women demanding access to workplaces and then complaining about everything once they get there. The old dinosaur patriarchs said that women wouldn’t like it, and it would make them miserable, didn’t they? The logical answer is staring us in the face, especially in the MeToo era: segregated workplaces. Is that what they want? Seems like it, doesn’t it?

“But it makes me so angry to think of all these women, living their lives, thinking there’s something wrong with them – that they’re too small or don’t fit or whatever it is.”

“It’s just that we haven’t built anything for women.”

The irony is that this is genuinely proof of how gender equality programs have failed, but not in the way she thinks. This is not the 1980s; women have occupied senior positions in every department of every large organisation for more than a decade now, so this “we” she’s referring to is as much women as men. But the power-skirts haven’t done anything about these practical issues women face, because power-skirts rarely get involved in practical issues. The actual design, manufacture, and supply of useful goods and services appears to still be done by men, while the power-skirts do…well, what exactly? HR departments are dominated by feminists holding seminars on sexual harassment and celebrating International Women’s Day but they’ve not even made sure their female employees have got the right kit. There’s a term for this sort of thing: abject failure.

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