As TV Says “Goodbye to Mad Men” Human Resources says “Thank Goodness it’s 2015”
Fortune Magazine recently ran an article depicting “How ‘Mad Men’ made its mark on business.” After winning several Emmy’s and other credits for the writing, acting, fashion, the very intense and realistic portrayal life in the 1960’s, and most noteworthy how business was conducted in that era; HR professionals should embrace the current times.
Yes, there are way more government regulations to adhere to, but aren’t they a result of trying to improve the workplace in most circumstances? Would we really want to go back to a time of such sexism in the workplace? As the Fortune Magazine article notes, “Mad Men depicts an office culture that’s brazenly hostile to women”, but also notes that, “there’s no denying that [the show] got people talking about sexism in the workplace”. A piece by Stephanie Coontz in The Washington Post stated that the show is in fact accurate in its depiction of how women were treated in the 1960s workforce. “Newspapers still ran separate want ads with separate pay scales for female jobs,” she said. “There wasn’t even a term for sexual harassment, much less any law against it.” Sexism is just one of the many types of harassment and discrimination that has become illegal. While there may be more Federal and State government regulations that we need to adhere to, aren’t we glad for that in the big picture?
Another item that viewers of the show have witnessed blaringly is the consumption of alcohol in the workplace. It was commonplace, and accepted to not only smoke but to consume alcohol in many workplaces during the 1960s. Kudos to the writers for not only depicting this practice accurately, but for going forward and further showing the ensuing Alcoholism and the damaging effects of these workplace practices. The show did a remarkable job of portraying the true devastation it could and can cause. By Sterling Cooper putting two of the worst offenders on indefinite leave, it shows a step towards where we are today: that such practices are not only against good company policies, but dangerous and just a downright bad idea. Alcohol and work do not mix, for reasons of productivity and safety among many others.
Though sexism, smoking, and alcoholism may be three of the most blaring “no-no’s” of today’s workplace depicted in the show, the fashion is incredible. Today, we often find ourselves working in either casual or at least ‘business casual’ per our company’s dress attire policy. In many 1960’s office spaces, they dressed to the 9’s. It was always professional attire.
So, what can we take away from the series “Mad Men” in regards to Human Resources and business?
Thank goodness it’s 2015, where we can be more “PC” while being more comfortable!
HR Strategies is here to assist our clients with any concern regarding government regulations including but not limited to sexism and any other form of discrimination. We are proud to offer all of our clients and their employee’s access to our Employee Assistance Program for matters that affect their job performance, including alcohol abuse and recovery. Our knowledgeable HR Consultants work with our clients to address company dress code policies, and create customized Employee Handbooks.