A Worker’s Gotta Have A Code – Surviving the Jungle of Employment

I have a confession to make, my addiction to the TV show The Wire has got out of hand. It’s turned into a kind of fascination with the characters, the culture, and the ‘code’.
Obviously, I know as much about street culture as David Parenti (an academic in The Wire who studies corner kids).
Code of Thug Life (written by Tupac & Mutulu Shakur) has some interesting points in it:

1. All new Jacks to the game must know: a) He’s going to get rich. b) He’s going to jail. c) He’s going to die.

3. One crew’s rat is every crew’s rat. Rats are now like a disease; sooner or later we all get it; and they should too.

5. Car jacking in our Hood is against the Code.

6. Slinging to children is against the Code. 

9. Since the rat Nicky Barnes opened his mouth; ratting has become accepted by some. We’re not having it.

I’ll stop there, but there are 26 points in total. Point 9 piqued my interest, so I watched ‘Mr Untouchable, the Nicky Barnes Story’. Wow! What a story of Shakespearean proportions. (The King Pin gets jailed, bros mess with his hoes, they spend his money, and he decides to screw it and rat out everyone in his operation to the police – including his wife.) And the controversy is, did he or didn’t he break the code?
As Omar says, “a man’s gotta have a code.” Or as a trendy saying would explain “it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s how you do it.” Or as anyone outside of ‘the game’ can see, it’s a great way of protecting your moralistic self esteem while performing highly immoral acts.
It makes me think about the appropriateness of a code in the business environment. Yes, we can jazz it up with diversity policies, zero bullying tolerance and freedom of information acts – but we all know  that work is a jungle. Sometimes work puts us in a shit-storm of highly immoral acts. Employers not paying retirement fund entitlements to employees. Dangerous equipment not being replaced. Racist bosses and their hiring processes. What are we meant to do in these situations where there is no making it right? Oh yes, we may say ‘report it to the authorities’, but authorities aren’t all that everywhere in the world.
What do you think should go in the Code of Work Life?
Some of my suggestions would be:
1) All new players must know: a) Getting rich is the exception to the rule. b) They’re going to get screwed over. c) They’re going to be unemployed.
2) Not defending your staff member’s work against baseless criticism is against the Code.
3) Pushing your work onto a colleague of the same rank by taking advantage is against the Code. Respect your peers.
4) Going to a supervisor to sort out an irritation with your colleague is for weak ass punks.
5) One workplace’s bully is every workplace’s bully. Bullies is outta here.
6) Know your target, who’s the real enemy.
Man, I could go on with this stuff, but I want to hear your ideas! 
I just want to finish on the point that although the code seems like a way of life, really it is just a means to an end. The ultimate thug dream is going legit. The ultimate worker’s dream is being financially secure. And that’s why I think having the Code of Work Life is so important, because it’s a nice thing to have your self respect intact when you arrive at your destination.
Ok, over to you now – tweet at me (@whippasnappahr) your ideas for the Code!
Btw, if you’re wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR – here‘s my explanation.

And just ‘cos, here’s the Code of Pug Life:
Not loving pugs is against the Code.

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  • 12 May 2013