In Plain English


A while ago, a friend of mine in a large corporation asked me if it was possible for me to use my translation skills to translate an email he’d received from Management-speak into English. Herewith my best attempt. I may have changed some of the names to protect the guilty:

Large Corporation has a vision – to be the new force in banking, and at the heart of this is the diversity of our people, products and services. Treasury has its own Diversity Strategy which places a focus on excellence and aims to get the best out of the people that we have, and to be able to attract the best candidates into the organisation.

Translation: Hello. We are a bank, and there are lots of people working here. They are all different and not the same. We would like to be good at what we do. We would like to have people who are not rubbish.

To achieve this we need an environment of inclusiveness where everyone feels able to contribute. We will limit our business potential if we do not create an environment that is attractive to all. We should all value difference and recognise that people from diverse backgrounds, skills, attitudes and experiences can add positively to the business success.

Translation: It would really help if everyone was nice to the fat girls and the blokes with B.O. Please don’t take the piss out of each other. Something’s going wrong upstairs, and we’ve decided to blame you lot.

More details of the Treasury Diversity strategy are now on the HR site on the intranet which can be accessed by the following link: [snip].

Translation: Someone has written this all out again somewhere else, in words even Bob from Accounts can understand. Not that we would make that an issue with him or tell him that, because then that would not be inclusive.

To achieve this aim, we must demonstrate fairness and respect in our dealings with our colleagues, customers, shareholders, investors and communities in which we operate.

Are we not getting through yet? BE NICE TO EACH OTHER or we will fire your ass.

To achieve this aim, we must demonstrate fairness and respect in our dealings with our colleagues, customers, shareholders, investors and communities in which we operate. Therefore, a number of diversity awareness sessions have been arranged to develop our knowledge of the current issues. These sessions will be facilitated by Drama Llamas, who are leading providers of Diversity training and who will run the sessions in a fun, yet thought provoking way.

Some out-of work actors and someone who thinks he is Ricky Gervais will indulge in a futile effort to get you all playing a office-centred perversion of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, in which you will be asked to “role-play” dealing with difficult customers, and learn about “conflict resolution” in an office environment.

The only thing that will unite you with your colleagues will be your universal contempt for the people making you perform these bizarre circus tricks. However, the organisers do not give a toss because they get paid whether you enjoy it or not. And rather than admit they wasted thousands of pounds, Human Resources will report that the whole project has been a resounding success, and probably produce a chart that looks like a big pie.

Please respond using the voting buttons above to indicate which date you are able to attend, the sessions will be filled on a first come basis.

Someone with an English degree has realised that if we say “vote” and “first-come [first-served],” you might think that we were doing you a favour.

Fiona Collindale will confirm your place by email.

Fiona Collindale will be the person who reports that everything was a “resounding success”.

The sessions are mandatoy.

Because if we only singled out the people who needed them, it would be unfair on them and ruin our special inclusion policy. So *all* of you have to go through with this, even though the whole thing is only really for the benefit of Gavin from Marketing, who still refers to the post-room as “his bitches.”

if you cannot attend a session please inform Fiona of any reason why you are not able to attend any of the dates below.

Fiona will shortly realise just how much power she now has, and take great pleasure in berating people for “letting down the team” when they tell her to shove it. You are *all* going to have to do this, people, but anyone who thinks it’s bobbins will have a little mark put on their file by Fiona, who will probably be head of personnel soon enough when Management read her report about how everything was such a “resounding success.” She will then have the power of life and death over you, so woe betide anyone who gives her grief.

(For Glasgow staff, we will arrange separate training later in the year although anyone is very welcome to attend if in London)

We know that Glasgow staff will slit our throats if we try it there, so we’re going to hide for a bit, and get round to it when we have hired some bigger people with cattle-prods.

Hope that helps.

4 thoughts on “In Plain English

  1. This made me chuckle – cheers for posting it (I feel a bit bad that I regularly read your posts, but rarely comment on them)!

    For the benefit of people who are worried that this article is exaggerating for comedic effect: I’ve worked in a well-known UK public sector organisation for a number of years and I can say with certainty that employees really do come up against this crappy jargon in real life situations, with depressing regularity!

    The likes of Dilbert comic strips and internal e-mails poke fun at ‘management speak’ but yeah…this sort of nonsense really does happen. If it were possible to create and market a piece of translation software that turns that drivel into a form that’s readable for intelligent human beings, you’d be well on the way to making your first million. 🙂

  2. Martin speaks the truth, this is part of the annual core reading along with more common practices of health & safety and security in and out of the workplace.

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