The phrase “white lies” is common, and it’s been around a long time – its origin can be traced back to a 14th-century letter:
“I do assure you he is vnsusspected of any vntruithe or oder notable cryme (excepte a white lye) wiche is taken for a Small fawte in thes partes.”
Yes, that’s how people wrote and spoke English in the 1300s.
And yes, my spellcheck went bonkers with it.
“White lies” recently appeared in this headline in the The Baltimore Sun and other publications:
Tell white lies at work?
The article was based on a survey done by SimplyHired.com, and “98% of respondents admitted to telling an untruth at work.”
Like I said: Duh.
The Simply Hired website had several interesting graphics, and I feel compelled to share a few. This one because some of these white lies are new to me, and I’ll be adding them to my repertoire:
Though I don’t know if “I’m just tired” would work well in today’s workplace.
Because a lot of people are tired at work, according to an article that appeared soon after the white lies story:
This article suggests that “many people feel their jobs have been devalued by employers that increasingly assign a higher priority to shareholders and customers,” and notes:
- Around one in three workers said they now face too much work to do everything well.
- About three-quarters said they had to work extra hours beyond their usual schedule at least one day a month.
- About one in five said they held a job other than their main one.
Are we “tired”?
Here are some additional reasons employees feel devalued:
- Middle-income households have less home equity.
- Median household income, adjusted for inflation, has barely budged in two decades.
- Businesses looking “to get out of the messy job of employing people” hire outside firms to do work formerly done in-house. These outside companies hire people at lower pay with fewer benefits and job protections.
- The wealthiest Americans now hold a greater share of the nation’s wealth.
- Corporate profits have far outpaced employee compensation since the early 2000s.
- The median pay of CEOs of companies in the S&P 500 index who have been in their job for at least two years jumped from $9.6 million in 2011 to $12 million last year. To earn as much as the CEO, a typical employee at most big companies in 2018 would have to work 158 years.
Now I’m really tired.
The article also notes,
“Keeping workers happy is a very low priority,” said Ruth Milkman, a sociologist of labor and labor movements at the City University of New York.
So we’re not happy at work, and we lie.
Lies that aren’t just a coping mechanism, but a survival strategy.
We lie, and lie often, says Simply Hired:
And a lot of this is in proportion to job satisfaction:
And the biggest days for lying are Mondays and Fridays:
And sadly, many workers have multiple circumstances to lie, because they’re working multiple jobs:
So, before I apply for a job I’d better update my resume “Skillset” list:
Extensive experience telling white lies to direct reports, colleagues and supervisors. Lying reasons include:
- To avoid hurting a colleague’s feelings (though her new haircut really is ugly).
- To secretly attend a job interview (hey – their HR told me to lie).
- To take a day off without using vacation or sick days (and make up for all the unpaid time I’ve worked).
- To improve my chances of receiving a raise or promotion (I’ve been here five years without either).
- To avoid being reprimanded for a mistake (not that I make any).
- To take credit for someone else’s work (my manager does this, therefore I can, too).
If this doesn’t help, then I guess I’ll just settle down and plan on working those 158 years.
And end up like this woman…
In mid-August the Business Roundtable made a huge announcement:
Well, they sort of said this.
The Business Roundtable – a group of 181 corporate CEOs – announced a new approach to the way corporations are going to do business. They said…
Here are a few of those Roundtable CEOs, and their total annual compensation (TAC) as of April 19, 2019:
TAC: Richest person in the world
CEO, Johnson & Johnson
CEO, Bank of America
They said, “We feel your pain,” and when you look at their total annual compensation, you know that’s true!
They said, “So we’re going to change the way business does business!”
You know that’s true!
According to this article in The New York Times:
The article says that,
“…the Business Roundtable issued a statement on ‘the purpose of a corporation,’ arguing that companies should no longer advance only the interests of shareholders. Instead, the group said, they must also invest in their employees, protect the environment and deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers.”
And Brian Moynihan (pictured above), Bank of America CEO said,
“You can provide great returns for your shareholders and great benefits for your employees and run your business in a responsible way.”
But…how will they do that?
They didn’t say.
What else didn’t they say? As the Times article noted,
“There was no mention at the Roundtable of curbing executive compensation, a lightning-rod topic when the highest-paid 100 chief executives make 254 times the salary of an employee receiving the median pay at their company.”
So even though, for the past 20 years, the Business Roundtable’s published principles have stated that “corporations exist principally to serve their shareholders…”
Suddenly, that’s all changed!
Or it will, “soon”:
“Several of the executives…said the group would soon offer more detailed proposals on how corporations can live up to the ideals it outlined, rather than focusing purely on economic policies.”
The Business Roundtable hasn’t told us how, or when, they’ll “invest in their employees, protect the environment and deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers.”
I do hope this isn’t more…
And until we learn more, this is me, waiting…