Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Frontline charity collectors

This company’s “Info for Jobseekers” page is just hilarious.

Note the three boxes, side-by-side. The first is for GenX Australians, including uni graduates. The hook? “Great money”, “training”, and “[being] passionate about the environment, child welfare, international aid, human rights or finding cures for deadly diseases?”. Next, comes the don’t-worry-about-appealing-to-altruism shpiel directed at twentysomething Pommie backpackers: “Would you like to have your costs subsidised and travel from Cairns to Adelaide, to be paid well to recruit new donors for charities and not-for-profit organisations?”. Finally, there’s this fairly generic appeal to those feeling “desk-bound” in their current employment: “Do you want to earn a good income, get involved with interesting issues, and work for an ethical company that is going places?”.

“An ethical company”? Yeah, right – a chameleon company, more like it. Backpackers are all but explicitly told to not worry about the pretext of working for a charity, while we European passport-less young Australians are expected to suck on the twin delusions of (i) working for a noble cause, and (ii) getting a career, or at least one rung-up on the job ladder out of it. (Note the “training” word here: a company’s employing backpackers and purporting to offer bona-fide career advancement are mutually-exclusive, a priori).

A spokesperson for this company got a bit of a grilling on “A Current Affair” a couple of months ago. The angle of complaint? That its spruikers weren’t really tied to the particular charity whose praises/needs they were singing so loudly on any given day day. From memory, the spokes-guy didn’t really deny that the workers did, from time to time, swap causes from among the company’s roster of clients, but that this was all good in the bigger picture, what with the many jobs his outfit created for "young people".

He didn’t mention the lesser, but still presumably substantial, number of new-ishly created supervisory jobs (of and over the said "young people") – presumably the “ethical company that is going places” oxymoron is boomer code for “Do you want a job pimping on naïve, idealistic GenXers?”

But there are, arguably, still-worse operators in the face-to-face charity collection (“chugging”) game, at least according to this SMH article. Note this massive understatement:

The commission system may boost a charity’s income but the money may come at the cost of good will.

Who would have thought good will could be lost through such practises? Anyone stupid enough to give their credit card number over, in the street, to some fast-talking Pommie git deserves to have it debited for all eternity, if you ask me – I’m more concerned with the corrosion of good will among employees, inter se. How any employer can expect an idealistic, career-focused uni graduate to work alongside backpacker blow-ins is beyond me. Or more accurately, is a scathing testament to the Australian labour market’s deliberate and open contempt for the most talented members of a generation.

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