A watchword for Michelle Guthrie’s ABC is patronising tokenism diversity.
It’s why, for example, they plonked unfunny Pakistani comedian Sami Shah in as the co-host host of their Melbourne breakfast show after making local legend Red Symons walk the plank, only to see the ratings slide and slide and slide — even after sending him off for elocution lessons.
Yet management communicates this high idea as well as Sami Shah presents as staff, like Melbourne listeners, turned off, wondering just what the hell is going on.
Today, the ABC staff newsletter, The Guardian Australia, carried an outraged piece on the latest attempts to life morale inside the corporation from its current Julia Gillard winter 2013 polling level lows:
ABC staff are reeling from the latest Utopia-style move from managing director, Michelle Guthrie which asks them to improve morale by thanking each other with cheesy cards featuring a character called Larry.
If one of Aunty’s 5,000-odd staff has been an “awesome” employee they may receive one of a range of bespoke cards: a People Focused Larry card, an Open & Transparent Larry card, a Straight Talking Larry card or an Accountable Larry card.
“I am incredibly proud of the work you do every day,” Guthrie told staff. “The high levels of trust we enjoy from our audiences is a tribute to the talent, dedication, and high-quality work of our teams right across the country and the world.
“This program is for the entire organisation and is an opportunity for us to celebrate each other’s achievements. You’re invited to do so by nominating an individual or team who demonstrate the ABC Principles and deserve acknowledgment for their outstanding work.”
The secretary of the ABC section of the Community and Public Sector Union, Sinddy Ealy, said the email had evoked great derision and anger from staff who felt they were being treated like toddlers at a time when morale was already low.
But what ABC management and Sinddy, for that matter — let alone (unforgivably) the PC than thou Guardian — failed to notice was just how white the program was.
The Guardian carried two “Larry cards”, this:
True, Larry’s eyes are a little slanty, but it’s probably just the expression. And look at those pallid forearms. It’s white, white, white all the way.
ABC management failed to notice. So did the union. The Guardian, too.
No doubt we’ll need to rely on one of those deeply disturbed children who write for Fairfax or Crikey tomorrow to call this out for what it is: RACISM!
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