Last week the HR manager walked into a bear pit of heckling at the diversity forum, so this week she decided on another approach. A diversity questionnaire, intended to promote tolerance in the workplace and protect employees against discrimination.
It carried instructions to use a black pen if writing the answers and a cross if completing the form electronically. The first wheeze was: "So, what do I do with the black pen?" This coming from a smart-arse back-office boy. The HR manager, already looking rather regretful at having initiated the task, responded: "Mark a cross, even you can work that one out."
After several minutes of time-of-the-month mumblings in retaliation, they ploughed on with the questions, pausing momentarily on "sex", with a yell of "no thanks love, don't do sloppy seconds", on account of her rumoured velvet-tipping from the MD. The section on religion raised another titter. Smart-Arse Boy asked for guidance as the HR manager had forgotten to include an "other" box. "What religion are you then? "she screeched, cueing a reply of "Satanist".
Next to provoke a rise was the criminal convictions section, to which there were musings about a caution for a drive-by gobbing incident incurred during student years. Once the virtues of this minor, but seemingly hysterical misdemeanour had been debated, they soldiered on to the equal opportunities section, with Smart-Arse Boy asking what transgender meant.
An attention-craving pal responded with: "If you have to ask then you can't afford it. "As Attention-Craving Girl bowed for the ready applause, the HR manager insisted that she'd included an explanation in one of the footnotes, but quickly paled on realising it had been omitted. "Oh, just read it out, "Smart-Arse Boy cajoled with a wink.
So, in a blaze of glory, the HR manager stormed into the middle of the open-plan office, her Gina sling-back sandals slapping furiously as she gathered speed, and barked: "This could include considering or intending to undergo gender reassignment surgery or not identifying with your assigned birth gender. Or defect in your case. "And with a smug smile she turned and stalked off towards the ladies' loos. Of course I followed her, to overhear a mobile exchange with her HR consultant, where she whined on about the effectiveness of the ridiculous diversity laws.
Smart-Arse Boy, meanwhile, bashed out a letter of complaint over her insinuating comment. Whisper has it that he milked £5,000 out of the company's hush-money account in exchange for his silence on the matter. The HR manager wasn't so lucky though; she left the completed forms on her desk that evening, so a thoughtful Samaritan kindly placed them on the HR director's desk with a Post-it note explanation, for safe-keeping purposes, of course. Seems she'd also struggled to understand the questionnaire, given that "strictly confidential" had been emblazoned across the front of it. And she wrote the document herself.