A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

21 November 2007

Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey

I was reflecting on a conversation I had with a co-worker yesterday. We were grumbling about certain esoteric aspects of the workplace (such as my uber-republican boss' insistence on celebrating US Thanksgiving with a big bash, while ignoring the Canadian celebration).

And it came to pass that I brought up the silence we maintain about compensation.

"In my old job, my boss actively told us not to talk about our salaries. And the amazing thing was how many people refused to; out of fear that somehow the boss would find out and ... and what? Who knows?

"My natural contrarian reaction was to share mine with anyone at all. But usually the people I was talking to edged away at the very mention of the word "pay".

"But here, there's no rule about it, and people keep silent anyway. I mean, there's nothing to stop us exchanging salaries ... Sooooo ... ?"

Long silence

Co-worker: "Uh, yeah."

What is this strange avoidance of discussing our paycheques? How has this been inculated in the workforce? It doesn't work for the worker--consider the fact that women are, fifty years into the womens' rights movement, still paid about 80% of what their male colleagues make for the same work. But I bet the corporate CEOs like it a lot when their minions and serfs don't discuss the reasons why a serf makes 10% less than a minion.

This linked in my mind to an article I spotted last weekend.

The scientists trained brown capuchin monkeys to perform a task in return for a reward. Most of the time, the monkeys were awarded slices of cucumber, which they like. But once in a while, the researchers would award a random monkey with a grape, which capuchins love.
The response was dramatic, the researchers said.

"We were looking for a very objective reaction and we got one. They typically refused the task they were set," Sarah Brosnan said.
"The other half of the time they would complete the task but wouldn't take the reward. That is a highly unusual behaviour.

"Sometimes they ignored the reward, sometimes they took it and threw it down," she added.

They never blamed their partner, say researchers.
The researchers were not surprised that the monkeys showed a sense of fairness, but they were taken aback that they would turn down an otherwise acceptable reward.

"They never showed a reaction against their partner, they never blamed them," Sarah Brosnan said.
Researchers conclude that the monkeys displayed a highly-developed sense of justice.

I have concluded that corporate CEOs are smarter than monkeys. And not as nice, as grotesquely demonstrated by the sickening disparity in executive pay versus the pay received by workers.

Anyone know of any companies run by capuchin CEOs? I thought not.


At 12:40 a.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Bonjour M Metro

There seems to be a widespread assumption, that to succeed (whatever that means) as a Leader in Business, you have to be ruthlessly selfish and obnoxious

I wonder if that's true .... perhaps a Capuchin as your CEO would get more out of the "Lower Orders"

Yr obedt servant etc


At 8:43 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

Mais vous avez raison, Herr Adler, we are in agreement. For doth not the Latin (vulgar) go:

"Vos reprehendo magis muscae per mellis quam per acetum."*

I fear that "succeed" is increasingly defined as "make a $#17load of money".

Interestingly, I am working on a project right now with a business coach who is bringing just this idea to business training.

*Y'catch more flies wi' t'honey than wi' t'vinegar."

At 9:10 a.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

wRitten like a true Derbyshire man !!!

At 2:17 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

The ghosts of my Lanky ancestors will haunt you for that.

At 2:01 p.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

You're not counting the US?

At 3:35 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3:36 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

@ RC
I think Capuchins may tend to get passed over in many North American firms in favour of gorillas.

Except in policits, where current trends appear to favour chimps.

At 3:37 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

"Politics"--and after I typed that twice, too.


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