Monday, April 02, 2007

"Wage Management Initiative"

Does anyone beside me remember when they used to use phrases like layoffs? Then I think we moved to "RIFs" aka "reduction in force." We were just starting to get used to this when along came the more creative "reorganizations" followed by the ever popular "restructuring" only to be displaced on the euphemism hit parade by "downsizing" or "right sizing." Not bad for openers.

If they ever give out awards for corporate euphemisms I hereby go on record as nominating Circuit City who, in a recent announcement, described the elimination of some 3,400 sales jobs as "a wage management initiative." As Don Imus might say, "You can't make this stuff up."

I stumbled across this gem in an article by David Carr that appeared in Monday's NY Times.

The real message Mr. Carr was delivering was to not only remind us all yet once again of the continuing disparity in the distribution of income* in our country, but also of the business culture we have created that allows failed corporate leaders such as Circuit City's CEO and Chairman, who between the two of them, got $10,000,000 for, as Carr so beautifully put it, "steering the company to its imperiled state."

"Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, our nation turns it lonely eyes to you."

* the article states that the top 300,000 Americans had almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans.


Jim Rowland said...


I remember very well the term layoff, RIF and some others, which as we all know have been replaced with less irritating phrases - like Right Sizing and this newest one "wage management initiative".

This issue is broader than just this subject, and we should all realize that this apparently innoccuous change in language is really quite dangerous. Its sort of like illegal aliens becoming "undocumented workers" - they have done nothing illegal, they just don't have documentation. The language change is designed to reduce the significance of the issue and make it more palatable to us all - and it works.

George Orwell was right - he was just off by about 20 years.

Thanks for the good work, keep it up.

Suburban Voice On-Line said...

don't you just LOVE corporate speak? It reminds me of how they used "rightsizing" to describe "downsizing"... good piece. I stumbled across it while doing some research for a blog/column I'm working on.