Lifting the lid on corporate culture


I was once waiting for a meeting at one of the larger beauty houses and spent an uncomfortable 15 minutes perched on their über-slick couch, staring at a gleaming backlit product wall, drinking in intimidating perfection.

“Would you like a macchiato?”asked the severe receptionist looking me up and down, with undisguised distaste.

“Ah, no,” I mumbled, feeling desperately awkward in my usual work wardrobe of jeans and takkies. “But, um, can I use your loo please?”

And that was the best question I could have asked, because while I entered the bathroom crushed and intimidated, I left with my unmade-up head held high.

For there, on the back of my chosen stall door, was the most wonderfully reassuring sign. Printed out on the office copier’s A4, in an improbably curly font, was the following: “To All Female Staff. If U Pee On The Seat & Don’t Wipe it Off U R Disgusting.”

Ha. Not so terribly swishy smart after all then, scary shiny chicks.

Ever since then, I make a point of going to the bathroom each time I visit a new company. Because you can tell more about a corporate from its loo literature than the brand essence they’ve carefully crafted with a squad of ad folk and emblazoned on the wall.

‘If you tinkle while you sprinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie.’ Yup. Too twee for words. If you find this sign, twenty bucks says 9 out of 10 employees have some sort of “Welcome to the Mad House!” homily above their desks. Not a place I’d go for original insights into anything.

Then there are the threatening ones, like: ‘SOMEONE (no names mentioned!!!!) left the bathroom in the most TERRIBLE state last week. WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE.’ Yup. Run from this job interview, folks, and don’t look back. Them folks is mean.

My all time favourite though? “Use the senitiry bins providid.” At a publishing company. I had to take a picture to show friends.

See how fun this game is? I urge you to play along yourselves; I promise away meetings will become instantly less intimidating.

Sam Wilson is the Editor-in-Chief of Women24, Food24 and Parent24. Her own corporate bathroom simply has the international geek symbol for Women on the door: (*)(*). Yup. That’s us in a nutshell.

Follow Sam on twitter.

This column first appeared in i magazine, a weekly lifestyle mag that comes out with City Press every Sunday, in Gauteng and KZN.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Do you think it's important to get married in this day and age?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, it's important in order to create a family unit and for companionship
28% - 5 votes
Not at all. Being single is far more liberating
6% - 1 votes
There is no general answer to this, it's each to their own
50% - 9 votes
Yes, society still frowns on unmarried people, especially women
0% - 0 votes
It depends on whether you are able to find a compatible partner
17% - 3 votes