Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Your Friendly Neighborhood Cable Company

Yesterday I received a letter from my cable provider. It's a general hey thanks for sticking with us, there's a slight change in our channel lineup letter. Nothing noteworthy. What is noteworthy, I noticed as I got to the bottom, is the CEO. It's a woman--she's CEO and Chairwoman of the Board. Considering how many companies and organizations are run exclusively by men, I'm sad to say that I was happy to see that. 

And then I looked closer. She's not just the CEO and Chairwoman of the Board. Between her name and those titles, there is another line--different titles. "Hugger, Mother, Keeper of the Culture." 

I shit you not. 

My irritation flared up, which will surprise exactly zero of you. You really should hear the first draft of most of my rants--this was no exception. You're a damn CEO! I don't care if you like hugs--I care that you're taking care of my cable and internet! My internet doesn't need a hug! Don't bring your maternal instincts into this! DO YOUR JOB. 

I'm not proud of it, but part of me was mad that this woman in charge was putting out this silly image. I'm so tired of being asked if I need a tampon when I'm having a bad day. I had an imaginary conversation with this CEO, asking her how she could be taken seriously when the first word after her name on letters is "hugger." 

Once I calmed down and paced my living room a little, I headed over to Google. This is not exclusive to the CEO, it would seem. WOW! Cable (Please do not get me started on their name. Please.) wants you to know that their employees aren't just employees--they're people, too. Each of them gets a "brand signature"--titles for their non-work life. This was done to humanize their employees, since people really hate cable companies. The idea is that if I'm on the phone, irate and wanting answers, I'll chill out and be nicer to the guy on the other end if I know he's a Jazz Enthusiast and Fly Fisher, rather than just The Guy Who Probably Screwed Up My Cable Bill. 

Alright. So it's everyone. That made me feel a little better. It wasn't the CEO alone. Then I asked myself how I would have felt if the letter had come from a man, with his brand signature listed with his job title. Would "Family Guy, Sports Fan, Person of Faith" have caused the same reaction? (That's the President's title, in case you're curious.) Yes. Yes, it would have. I realized it's not about being taken seriously as a woman in business--it's about being taken seriously in business. You're in charge of a cable company. I don't care what you do in your free time--that's totally up to you. What I do care about is the service you're providing me. Your passion for keeping the culture (whatever the fuck that means) weighs exactly zero on my decision to stick with you or switch companies. 

Moreover, I had no idea this was some company quirk until I did my research. I didn't think the author was human, I thought she was too eccentric to head up a cable company. It requires too much explanation--this is hardly common knowledge. (Particularly for a regional company. If Google did this, or Disney, or Apple...we'd probably have read about it on The Huffington Post by now.) It feels like an inside joke that I wasn't privy to. 

So, readers, I ask you--am I the only one not charmed by this "brand signature" nonsense? Does it change your image of cable companies if you know the CFO is a dog lover? 

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