624: Standards and Expectations

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Organizations of people (schools, businesses, etc.) have expectations for their members. Many of those groups have codified those expectations into standards which are actually written down and distributed, to be sure that everyone who is a member (employee) of that group is on the same page, regardless of what is accepted behavior for them outside of their participation in that group, at home, or in other aspects of their lives.

This is completely aside from those professions whose expectations bleed over into private life, like teachers and politicians, to name just two. There, the expectations of professional life are also expected (by the public) to be scrupulously observed in one’s private life, too – despite the freedom enjoyed by others who are able to behave as they see fit outside of work hours. Still, that is a rant for another place and time.

This particular diatribe is for organizations which publish and distribute their expectations and professional standards for their members, in this particular case employees, and then deliberately flout them.

See, professional standards are written down so that there is a clear understanding of what is expected of an employee, regardless of upbringing, culture, or previous practice. Generally, these correspond to a visual and behavioral image the company wants to portray to their “customers.” This includes such common things as what is considered to be professional dress for that workplace, not being under the influence of intoxicating substances while on the job, and others.

Frankly, I don’t care what aspects of professional behavior a company feels important enough to commit to paper, but it they ARE important enough to commit to paper, they need to be followed and enforced. If they are not that important, don’t write them down as rules to follow and distribute that information to everyone. Common sense – which isn’t actually very common (another rant, another time and place).

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Well. The bee in my bonnet today is over the professional dress. It is explained in our employee handbook that employees are expected to dress in a manner which reflects good taste and a professional appearance. This is so that a teacher or other employee LOOKS like a professional to be respected – someone with authority – whether they actually HAVE any authority or not (that, too, is yet another rant for another time and place). So, wearing denim jeans are prohibited, because jeans don’t project that “professional” aura about their wearer to the “customer.” OK. Message received.

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Then, we are instructed: Wearing jeans is prohibited except for Fridays (if worn with a school spirit shirt) or other specified days. Wait a minute. Jeans are prohibited because they are not professional, but you can wear them every Friday if you pair them with a school/company logo-imprinted T-shirt. So, if that Friday clothing is considered professional enough for every week, what’s wrong with being comfortable Monday through Thursday in a pair of blue jeans and a school logo T-shirt, too? Or, is it that you are only allowed to be unprofessional in front of your customers (in this case, parents and students) on Fridays? Does that extend not only to dress, but all those other professional standards, too, where all those other things are prohibited (in writing) that might also make you more comfortable at work? How about a tension-relieving shot of Jack Daniel’s? Why wouldn’t that make the work place more tolerable and comfortable, too? Heck, how about a NAP? There’s actually some research to back that one up for improved employee performance on the job. Other comfortable (and questionable) things come to mind…….

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And, what about those other ‘specified’ days? At my work place, we were just given an ENTIRE WEEK to wear our jeans – and nothing was ‘specified’ about the school logo T-shirt this time. Does that rule still apply, or does that mean all bets are off on the chosen topper for those jeans?

I do understand about giving employees a treat (especially a treat that costs the management not a single penny), and has it crossed their minds that not everyone considers being allowed to wear jeans, contrary to the published dress code policy, to actually be a treat? Apparently not.

So, you are thinking, jeepers, lady – just don’t wear jeans, and shut up. OK. I suppose I can be pleased that we were given the opportunity to show up to work looking unprofessional, not the REQUIREMENT to do so.

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472: Fair trade clothing

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Most people do not consider clothing when they think about fair trade: they think instead of diamonds or of coffee. Not everyone drinks coffee or can afford to buy diamonds. However, every human on the planet wears clothing of some sort. Therefore, the issue of fair trade in the manufacture of clothing items is a far larger issue than fair trade with either coffee or diamonds.

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Fair trade refers to the ethical and humane treatment of the people (and other living creatures, such as sheep) who all participate in the production of clothing from fiber origin to the ultimate consumer. This includes the farmers who grow organic fibers, the miners who produce the raw materials which are used to manufacture inorganic, or synthetic fibers, the workers engaged in the production of yarns, those who weave or knit the fabric in factories or in collage industries, those who cut and sew the clothing items, those who dye, embellish or otherwise enhance the finished garments, inspectors who ensure quality, and transportation workers who move the finished products to market – not to mention the people involved in the marketing and sales of the finished clothing. Many people are employed in the creation of clothing, and all of them deserve to be treated ethically, without exploitation of their labor.

The primary role of enforcing fair trade ethics in the clothing manufacturing industry world-wide lies with the various governments that oversee the countries where garment manufacture takes place. There are still countries in the world where laws that restrict child labor, or forced labor do not exist.

CNN (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/15/world/child-labor-index-2014/) reported the to 10 countries for the worst child labor abuses as the following:

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It should be clear that this is a prevalent problem in developing nations, but it should be noted that even so-called advanced countries are not immune from child labor abuses. So-called sweat shops don’t only employ children. Often adults who are desperately in need of employment work under inhuman conditions. The owners of such factories are able to exploit their workers’ need for a job, any job.

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Fair trade clothing is produced using a supply chain from origin to consumer that is guaranteed legal and ethical, with fair practices employed in the treatment of all the humans and animals involved. Consumers who choose to purchase only clothing articles identified as fair trade are choosing not to financially support the exploitation of people and animals.

 

394: Mom-isms

I was one of those who SWORE that when I became a parent, I was NOT going to be like my mom and dad. And then, somewhere after child number one, or was it child number 2? I opened my mouth and my mom fell out of it. I have been guilty of a lot of the traditional, time-honored, respected (and disrespected) mom-isms. Reference: http://www.happyworker.com/magazine/fun/mom-wisdom#.U4yk4vldXT8[/

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EXCEPT for that one. Frankly, there are bigger issues in parenting than clean underwear – or underwear at all, for that matter. You learn as a parent to choose your battles. Once chosen, you need to win, but you need to choose which ones are worth fighting for and which ones just don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

In the difficult struggle to socialize and raise a decent human being, clothing is necessary, unfortunately. MODEST clothing is preferable. So is clean clothing – usually, but not always. I am perfectly willing to settle for clothing that does not make you look like a two-dollar hooker (or gigolo). That’s about it. As long as the essentials are decently covered, and stuff is not see-through to the point that it might as well not be there, OK.  AND, if others on the street make advances based on dress – it is obviously time to reevaluate either the dress or the person doing the come-ons. Let’s face it, even Catholic nuns are not immune to SOME people.

 

269: Marked

It is very strange to be somewhere where my appearance marks me as a rich person. That takes some getting used to. I am certainly not in the habit of thinking of myself as a rich person, and it is disconcerting to have others mark me so – just by the way I look. Now, understand me – I am not wearing diamonds and designer clothing. My shoes are from Wal-Mart, and my shorts and t-shirt together did not cost $5. It is not what I wear, however, it is the paleness of my skin (even tanned) that sets me apart, marks me as prey.

I can change my clothes, no problem.

How do you change your skin?

101: Azrou and street vendors

Azrou is my new home in Morocco. It is a smallish city about 10 kilometers away (down the mountain) from Ifrane, the village where we used to live and where we still commute to work. So, why move to another city that makes it more difficult to get to work? BECAUSE IT IS WORTH IT!!

Azrou comes alive each evening with street vendors, which my husband and I really enjoy. This last weekend, I scored some great deals: a pair of leather, lightweight sneakers and three pair of shoes – two with low heels perfect for work, and one fantasy high-heeled pair just for fun. Total price 80 dirham for all four pair – that’s less than ten dollars. My husband found a leather pair of sneaker slip-ons for himself that I really like, too – for a bargain price. AND, I found a d’jellaba dealer who had mounds and mounds of female fashion – -for 10 dirham an item – about a dollar and 15 cents each, for a full-length, long-sleeved, outer-wear, hooded robe. I can’t buy the fabric for that, and these are ready-made to wear! I got pink ones, red ones, black ones, brown ones, white ones, green ones, blue ones, grey ones, yellow ones, orange ones….you get the picture. I spent less than 35 dollars, and got 27 of them – enough to wear a different one a day, for a whole month of school. What FUN!!

And clothes is just the beginning of what’s on offer each evening! There are stalls of food (snails, popcorn, chickpeas, roasted corn, ice cream cones, and more) and housewares, costume jewelry, music and movie CD’s, personal care items like shampoo and soap, and lots of other varied things, including furniture! Plus, if you get tired, there are numerous restaurants where you can have a seat, a cup of coffee or tea, a delicious bowl of soup or a sweet pastry, and watch the flow of human and automobile traffic pass by. This show occurs each and every evening, too! Ifrane, where we used to live, does not have that. BOOOOOO! I feel like I am on vacation every day – and Ifrane did not have that, either!!