When I was younger I was given some good advice.
“Never write something about somebody else in an email that you would feel embarrassed about if that message ended up pinned to the office noticeboard”.
The thought behind this was that it’s easy to fire off an email but once it’s sent it can quickly be forwarded by other people and isn’t always guaranteed to remain confidential.
A certain male member of staff at the pwc Dublin office will no doubt from now on be thinking twice before he hits the send button on any of his messages.
A couple of weeks ago on what must have been a quiet afternoon in the office he sent an email to 14 male colleagues.
Sending emails to colleagues isn’t in itself a bad thing but the message was in fact asking his friends to rate the attractiveness of some recent female new joiners to the firm.
It also included staff photos of the ladies in question, all of whom were trainee accountants.
The subject line of the email was “this would be my shortlist for the Top 10”.
A colleague replied an hour later after obviously undertaking a detailed peer review and came up with a somewhat un-gentlemanly comment about whether one of the ladies justified being in the top 10.
Such is the ease with which emails are sent that within a few days the message had been forwarded to thousands of people and had “gone viral” around the globe.
My guess is that over the years the majority of employees in most companies have at one stage or another got together over a drink after work and debated the attractiveness of their colleagues.
Taking photos from the staff directory and emailing them though is probably on a different level. pwc are understandably taking this matter seriously and have reportedly launched an investigation.
Now before any ladies out there start accusing this of being purely a male problem it’s worth reminding people about former Deloitte employee, Ms. Holly Leam-Taylor.
In an email sent last December Ms Leam-Taylor’s message entitled “Deloitte first year analysts Christmas awards” asked her female colleagues to vote on which men in the office they considered to be the most attractive.
This message also “went viral” and became a global internet hit.
The conclusion to this article?
Well I guess it’s not to preach about whether or not you should make top 10 lists but rather if you do then don’t put it in an email as it may well end up being pinned on a global noticeboard.