Saturday, November 14, 2009

Save it for a rainy day, son

The recent spell of inclement weather in Sydney is not without an up-side. It has afforded lawyers in the Phillip Street legal precinct an opportunity to compare firm practices on branded brollies, exposing troubling inequities in their respective policies.

Word is, some firms dispense a corporate-size number free of charge upon admission to the factory floor. But some of the bigger outfits expect employees to pay for the privilege of toting the firm brand about town.

Not that the eagles seem to mind. Sheltering beneath the smug typeface of a double or triple-barreled partnership spells wealth and prestige - a mark of success to buck one up in the face of daily (and nightly) mundanities in open plan pens.

The foam-handled freebies are undoubtedly more flimsy, though it seems a replacement will set one back the same number of shekels as a sturdier bells-and-whistles job with a smooth wooden handle.

One has to wonder whether outsourcing umbrella specifications to China is worth it. Should el-cheapo umbrella invert itself in the Phillip Street wind tunnel, by analogy a firm's legal advices (sorry, "professional services") are left looking a trifle shaky.

This is especially troubling when one considers the media's predilection for meteorological metaphors in recessionary times: projecting an image of weathering the GFC storm is key.

Wily photo-journalists lie in wait for an unflattering shot of a drenched, wind-swept solicitor to accompany a piece on pay freezes.

With this in mind, quaere whether new recruits in cheap suits should be permitted to align themselves publicly with the firm brand. It's a truism that harried and tired grads do not bespeak legal expertise.

Perhaps the prudent would do well to ban corp merch altogether.

After all, the quest to remain fresh and on-message means that the official firm font and colour scheme is likely to be overhauled before long. An amnesty on obsolete umbrellas (think symbolic tossing of goods into landfill) or trade-in scheme won't catch all, surely. One runs the risk of competing messages, confusing the marketplace.

No, best let the rank and file find their own shelter from the storm.

Another metaphor for the recent rounds of redundancies.

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