Boot camp: the practical solution to law firm management issues?
Why is everyone playing a game that nobody admits to liking?
Philip Green, the billionaire retailer whose brands include Topshop, was unmasked yesterday in the House of Lords as the man who used the courts to prevent a newspaper from reporting allegations that he sexually harassed and racially abused some of his employees.
In the Court of Appeal judgment, granting Sir Philip an interim injunction, Green was alleged to have been the subject of complaints from five people, all of whom settled after receiving “substantial payments”. Lord Peter Hain’s intervention yesterday, invoking parliamentary privilege to name Sir Philip, exploded that injunction.
The NDA effect
NDAs are peculiar things. They are in harsh spotlight now in a workplace harassment context but they do, in fact, provide some form of get-out for all classes of impoverished commercial behaviour. NDAs simply embody and inflame our fears about others.
The Orwell short story ‘Shooting an Elephant’ perhaps best describes the dynamics of NDA’s and of male honour codes. Shooting that elephant didn’t make George Orwell a happy man.
The pressure to conform is enormous for men. Philip Green is just another conformist. He’s no different to Fred-the-Shred or to Lord Peter Hain. He’s no different to a judge, a post room boy, a law firm employee, an entrepreneurial young woman who is setting up a FinTech or to a psychotherapist who is also merely preying on human time, energy and money because, most ironically, he is also far, far too afraid to question his own conformity norms. Social sedation works. It generates revenues.
Implicit male 'honour' codes infect - and affect - all of us. Nailing ‘bad apples’ certainly provides an adrenaline rush for spectators. But men still continue to ‘play the game’, all day, everyday. In that game, it is existence easiest to maintain the delusional stance that bad apples are merely exceptions. We're all heroes-in-waiting and bad apples waiting to be outed.
Apples and eggs
So, how does a ‘good egg’ turn into a ‘bad apple’? Nothing will ever change while men still feel unsafe about questioning the components of this enigma. This enigma is, in a nutshell, what the male honour code ‘game’ amounts to.