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Unnecessary Status Sorting: Hooker Edition

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There are so many disturbing aspects of the sex party "incentive" boondoggles thrown by Munich Re subsidiary Ergo, that it's hard to know where to begin.

So let's start with this color coding thing. Apparently, the women available for "sexual favors" wore yellow arm-bands, while the hostesses in the nightclub wore red arm bands. But another set of women wore white arm-bands. This reportedly signaled that they were available for "sexual favors" too—but reserved for top executives.

What on earth could prompt that kind of status sorting? Did someone sort through all the women ahead of time to find the 'top quality' ones, and then set them aside for the executives? What could be the purpose of that?

It seems like an extreme example of a common corporate problem: unnecessary status sorting. Privileges are reserved for higher ranking executives simply because there is an instinct to rank.

Very often, this is completely counter-productive.

I know one law firm, for instance, that decided to allow only partners to get firm emails on iPhones rather than Blackberrys. Of course, most partners preferred their old Blackberrys, and most associates preferred iPhones, so this was a dumb idea. When the firm finally expanded the program to include associates, it found that it actually saved money. Incoming associates were declining the Blackberrys the firm used to give away, preferring to use their own iPhones. Instead of paying for a device plus a service plan, the firm now only pays a small data fee for each new associate. The status-sorting was costing the firm money.

All businesses should look at any instance of status sorting and ask: does this serve a legitimate business purpose? Or are we just practicing an old, bad habit.

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