Douglas Murray Douglas Murray

Work is no place for your ‘whole self’

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One of the few things I have learned in this life is that Dante Alighieri was wrong. In the Inferno portion of The Divine Comedy (the only part most people read), the great Florentine poet describes hell as having just nine circles. Whereas whenever I survey matters it has always seemed me that this figure is on the low side. In fact I would go further. I would say that if you look down there is always a circle below every circle.

The other week I wrote about our nation’s ambassador to the Ukraine — a woman who seems to think that expressions of vulnerability and not-quite-coping are somehow helpful public attributes in her job. What I did not get into is that Melinda Simmons is not alone. She is part of a movement. A way of approaching the working world which constitutes a whole new circle of hell. It can be summed up in a phrase now working itself outwards from every HR department in the land. That phrase is ‘Bring your whole self to work’.

If you have not come across this phrase then you are among the blessed, perhaps due in time to be guided by Beatrice to the heavenly heights. For those of us who must perforce keep looking downwards, we have watched this wretched phrase spread every-where. It is not just pushed out by HR departments but is the subject of numerous books, TED talks and more.

‘Can you please stop being 7 per cent more expensive than you were last year?’

It seems to have emerged as an invitation for people who are members of minority groups to not ‘hide’ their identities in the office place. So if you’re a gay you shouldn’t have to hide the fact at the office. If you are a member of some indigenous community (apart from the Anglo-Saxons, naturally) you should ensure that you do not try to ‘pass’ as somebody else.

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