If you’re going to get fired for a joke make it a good one

Lloyd’s of London insurance broker Guy Carpenter has suspended a senior executive after he sent a sexually explicit email to colleagues on his birthday.

In the email, senior vice-president James Conmy said: “There are doughnuts on Alf’s desk as it’s my birthday today. I hope people like Krispy Kremes – I know [female colleague] enjoys a glazed ring.”

The female colleague, whose identity has not been revealed, replied in an email: “This is absolutely totally unacceptable James. There are limits to ‘jokes’ you can send at work copying in all colleagues – this is extremely rude and offensive. Please note that this will be forwarded to HR — HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”

Sigh.

Although, to be honest, I’d rather expect someone who has risen to seniority in a Lloyd’s broker to have a thicker skin than that.

44 comments on “If you’re going to get fired for a joke make it a good one

  1. Dunno. I’d expect a Lloyds broker to be able to craft a better gag than that. Over at the SX, we always could.

  2. When I worked in the city on the “big bang” the women were terrifying. “Fuck off, pencil dick” was practically a term of affection.

  3. Although, to be honest, I’d rather expect someone who has risen to seniority in a Lloyd’s broker to have a thicker skin than that.

    Female though. I wonder what her opinion is of jokes about throwing battery acid in people’s faces?

    Still, the utter stupidity of sending anything in an email, copied to lots of people, with anything other than the most anodyne content. If you always assume that at some point you are going to have your (professional) emails read back to you by a sarcastic barrister in court, you won’t go wrong.

  4. Re battery acid. I can’t believe the furore (apparently on both sides). Snowflakes abound.

  5. It’s one way to make your way up the greasy pole. I bet we can all think of people who have used current HR norms to get people either inconvenienced, disciplined or fired. It pained me to type ‘people’ there. You know I really meant odious shits

  6. The practice of buying cakes or doughnuts for everyone on your birthday needs to stop pronto. Alcoholic drinks are acceptable if that’s the only way you can get them down to the pub.

  7. Rob,

    A particular mine manager of my acquaintance is keen to say, when a young engineer offers advice that he is uncertain of, “try putting ‘your honour’ after that statement.

    Before going out on a limb with a joke like that (though I wouldn’t contemplate anything so coarse), I’d have to be supremely confident in my relationship with the victim and all other recipients. There have been times when I’ve responded sarcastically to an email, but first having deleted a large number of the original recipients who I judged would not appreciate my response.

  8. “When I worked in the city on the “big bang” the women were terrifying. “Fuck off, pencil dick” was practically a term of affection.” Confirmed what I always thought, RdeJ. Women weren’t allowed on the Floor or served in Birch’s because they’d lower the tone of the whole business. Unnecessarily aggressive, women. Subtleties escape them

  9. There’s always one, isn’t there. I feel some sympathy for the senior exec especially after his female colleague took it the wrong way.

  10. I’m with Rob on this one – sadly this where we are
    But on any mass email you’d be foolish to send anything that could be construed as offensive or open to misinterpretation

    With 6 ‘non gender pronouns’ and rising as well as
    24 genders (also rising) best not send anything out at all beyond immediate people you know will not take umbrage – Some sympathy that we live in an age where vicarious offence has the ‘nap hand’ but it’s crushingly stupid to send out an email like that. The guy must have been living in a hermetically sealed bubble for the last two years.

  11. Something much milder happened to me. Our librarian emailed a practice group that there was a new legal book which could be found on the library top shelf. I emailed back (to the group) to say I’d take a look given it was a top shelf publication.

    Of course, this was reported to a diversity officer and I was given a rather half-hearted and sympathetic talking to by a “senior diversity officer”. Not sure what the grounds for the complaint were, as it did not target any individual or group (apart from myself and fit women) and when I asked exactly how this breached our diversity policy answer came there none. In hindsight of course not the smartest thing to do.

    Anyway, I don’t have clue who might have made the complaint, so I have now totally disengaged from any interaction at all with anyone in that group that is not strictly work related. I don’t even say good morning to them.

  12. A particular mine manager of my acquaintance is keen to say, when a young engineer offers advice that he is uncertain of, “try putting ‘your honour’ after that statement.

    Sound advice even ten years ago. In these “Year Zero” times of companies backing up every mentally ill SJW with a grudge, absolutely essential.

  13. I’m sure she has reinforced rhino hide-grade skin. This stuff is entirely about disposing of a competitor.

  14. He was stupid. Pure and simple. He was making a joke at her expense and she didn’t really have many options. I don’t have any sympathy for him at all.

  15. In such a situation act completely naive and make them explain to you in detail your double entendre.

    You don’t have anything to lose.

  16. Would he have got off with ‘I know some of the girls enjoy a glazed ring’?

    Or perhaps just have been subjected to a severe dressing down? (Ooooh, matron!)

  17. She is French, called Soraya Faussi and someone has done a spoof LinkedIn page calling her a glazed ring specialist ad Guy Carpenter. The also say someone called Cooper Gay was the snitch. Just in case you were wondering

  18. @ BenS: Alinksky’s rules for radicals. Make the enemy live by his own rules. That is all that is happening here. The left were happy to throw Danny Baker to the wolves for a joke. Likewise their pearl clutching over Carl Benjamin’s jokes about Jess Phillips. Well, now they can suck up their own medicine.

  19. BF

    ‘Anyway, I don’t have clue who might have made the complaint, so I have now totally disengaged from any interaction at all with anyone in that group that is not strictly work related. I don’t even say good morning to them.’

    100% agree with that as ever – that is all you can do – literally even in order to get basic information they will get nothing more than precisely what they ask – real ‘work to rule’ – nothing additional volunteered – no context given and just my name in the byeline.

    That is if the person in question (and I have only have it happen a couple of times) has raised a complaint,especially one which involves them taking ‘vicarious offence’. A ‘Good morning’ or indeed acknowledgement of their existence is strictly verboten. Act like a complete piece of s%$^ then expect to reap what you sow, Worse than pondlife by a substantial margin. My only regret is that it has to be directed at the department rather than the individual

  20. He’s impugned a lady’s honour in public. Definite caddish behaviour, not a gentleman etc. So I’m finding it hard to have any sympathy for him. Although I think the lady in question has also stepped beyond the bounds of reasonable behaviour, she’s less guilty in this matter than him.

    @HenryCrun taking it the wrong way. LOL.

  21. Lloyds are fucked. When someone comes up with some technological disintermediation, they’re toast.

    Corporate sewing circles stuffed full of women massively overprioritise manners and general niceness, to the detriment of productivity. All this work/life balance, wellness, diversity and mental health at work is all being driven by The Niceness Agenda. They’re really just parasites, draining all the real work done to build the place.

    The next Google are currently in a shitty office with 100 OSHA violations putting in 16 hour, 6 day weeks, doing little more than grinding out code. And the staff ratio will be something like 10/1 male/female.

  22. The nearest I got to this was some 20-25 years ago, when I was creative director of an advertising agency. One member of my team was an art director named Debbie, who started ringing in saying she couldn’t come to work because “my cat is ill”.

    As her absences became more and more regular, emails to the department became more and more sarcastic, until finally it became general practice that whoever had taken the call would simply send an email saying “Debbie is having trouble with her pussy again”.

    One day, Debbie was grilled about her increasing absence, and she admitted that it wasn’t even her cat – it was her neighbour’s cat.

    At that point, she was sacked on the spot.

  23. @BoM4 notwithstanding my previous comment I broadly agree with what you say. Where I would pick you up though is your reference to OHSA points the way to you assuming it will happen in America. I think it’s just as likely to happen somewhere in Asia. When i worked for a large American software company and you looked at the names on e-mails etc. it was largely Asians (not exclusively but they were certainly over-represented) doing the work in the USA anyhow. Who’s to say they can’t do it in their own countries.

  24. BoM4

    “Lloyds are fucked. When someone comes up with some technological disintermediation, they’re toast.”

    I wouldn’t bet on it. It’s not as if they are insuring commoditised, fungible assets. One person’s oil refinery tends not to lok like another’s, etc. Having all your underwriters in one place – I know, but in effect – and brokers who work the shoe leather for you, is worth something.

    Whatever platform might be created , are you really going to trust some junior bod to ensure that you are properly covered for your X millions of liability? And if you leave it to a senior bod, you’d be saving money if you used the current system.

  25. BF,

    I am given to understand that the modern “top shelf” industry is extremely welcoming of diversity, and in fact one of the least discriminating, most inclusive of any industry, to ensure that all tastes, styles, shapes, sizes, etc are catered to. If this is the case, you weren’t even targeting “fit women”. I wonder if Rocco, who I believe has some considerable expertise in this field of enterprise, could further enlighten us.

  26. He was stupid. Pure and simple. He was making a joke at her expense and she didn’t really have many options. I don’t have any sympathy for him at all.

    +1

    Senior executive or not, James Comney is a moron. You don’t make crude sexual jokes about a professional colleague, female or no, and then broadcast it across the entire office. Why? Well, beyond the damage to office professionalism and morale, it might just end up in a major newspaper.

    If I was Carpenter I’d have fired the guy: “You’re too stupid to work here, and you’re too stupid to work for me. Have your desk cleared by the end of the day.”

  27. I’d like to be a Radio 4 comedy writer. I think I can demonstrate now that I have what it takes.

    By that, I mean I understand the formula:
    – “I don’t like X. You may now laugh and applaud.”

    – Double points for including a naughty word.

    – Triple points for being Topical.

    And, of course, the guiding principles:

    “We laugh although it’s not funny.

    We laugh because we are required to think it’s true.”

    So, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

    Jo Brand, Chuka Umunna and Matt Hancock go into a pub.

    And the barman says:

    “* * * * off, the lot of you. You’re all a waste of space.”

  28. I see DtP has surrendered to feminist aggression …

    I’m with Longrider 100%. This is the petard they built, let them be hoist on it.

  29. @ JuliaM
    I agree with Dennis. In my youth the victim’s boyfriend would have floored Conmy (not necessarily alowing him to get up from his chair first): it is conduct liable to lead to a breach of the peace and, hence, a criminal offence.

  30. Ian Reid,

    OSHA, HSE, whatever they have in India. The main point is that it won’t be women doing it.

  31. “Although, to be honest, I’d rather expect someone who has risen to seniority in a Lloyd’s broker to have a thicker skin than that.”

    Oh, she does. But when a rival hands you a loaded gun . . .

    Well, there’s a slot open for promotions now.

  32. @ Longrider
    Do you *really* imagine that plod will arrest Jo Brand?
    I see that Victoria what’shername has gone on twitter to attack Nigel Farage for objecting to “a joke”.

  33. Irrespective of the rights or wrongs of the case, this is the world companies live in and there’s no way I’d trust someone working for me if their judgement was so crass.

  34. He was completely out of line.

    If she accepts that “joke”, this time then she has to accept all the other “jokes”. Soon she is the butt of all the jokes.

    Directly targeting someone like that isn’t acceptable. I have a very thick skin, but I would have to complain about something like that. (Although not necessarily formally.)

  35. Julia –

    The only thing I’ve surrendered to is common sense.

    What I haven’t surrendered to is victim blaming.

  36. JuliaM: This is the petard they built, let them be hoist on it.

    pendantry: ‘hoist’ as the past participle of ‘hoise’. The OED gives: hoist with his own petard (Shakes.): Blown into the air by his own bomb; hence, injured or destroyed by his own device for the ruin of others. /pendantry

    It’s only worth pointing this out as people from Ireland to Arabia whom Jeremy Corbyn supports have a track-record of blowing themselves up as well, sadly, as many other innocent people and is thus potentially topical with a General Election on the horizon.

  37. The thing with Brand isn’t that she deserves to be attested for her shitty joke or that the BBC were happy to broadcast it despite it being prerecorded, it’s the way the BBC and friends immediately defend her because she’s one of their own.

    They should be held to their own standards relentlessly so they might eventually understand what’s wrong about what they so gleefully want to inflict on others.

  38. Longrider
    In that case why ask the enemy to abide by their own rules? A waste of breath

    Who said anything about asking? You play them at their own game. The process is the punishment.

  39. my daughter told me it was not the female recipient that went to HR. apparently her reply was tongue in cheek. another ‘right on broker took a screen shot that was shared. he was suspended as was the sender.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.