Thursday, July 13, 2006

Corporate Utopia, Western Arrogance or Just Plain Stupid? (20 February 2005)

I just finished translating a code of ethics for a large multi-national. I will call them "Black and White"
They are going to use it for their staff in the Arabic-speaking world, I was told. And they wanted me to adapt it.
There was very little there to "adapt" without basically telling B&W that they live in a Utopia. If they are using this manual for their Arabic-speaking staff INSIDE Europe, that's fine. If they plan to use it for branches INSIDE the Middle East and North Africa, then they will be in for a few nasty surprises.
The whole manual's message is: "You work for Orange, you must be Western". They will have a wake-up call when the Minister for Tele-lack-off-communications in one Arab country or another will ask them, "Well, brothers, and what is in it for the Minister?" Bribes, "gifts" and "corporate hospitality" are so pervasive there that you can't breathe without having to pay someone for permission. I particularly loved the bit about "supporting initiatives that will combat such practises". I want to see an Arab Government actually WANTING TO combat these, let alone COMBAT them in practice. But I won't tell them that, because big shots like B&W don't listen to small people like Sam. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

No comments: