Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Here's an interesting item that came across the Update desk earlier this afternoon. It's a slideshow accompanying a BusinessWeek article1 examining the possibility that the current economic downturn might force global companies to reduce or discontinue the extra compensations provided to employees working in remote or dangerous locations. One generally understood term for this is hardship differential. Chic and intrepid MBA newshounds sometimes refer to it as sweeteners. In an article championing the necessity of bonuses for hardship positions, I take exception with that label. To me, a sweetener is just a gaudy sack of junket swag doled-out as a competitive thank you or a dealership trick. A hardship differential is a wage-based pay increase measured to somehow fix issues brought about by isolation from infrastructure, sanitation, education, protection, and familiarity. Anyway, what I've linked above is really only the illustration: a slideshow entitled "The World's Worst Places to Work" based on a report commissioned by BusinessWeek from US human resources data compilation firm ORC Worldwide. I do not "take exception" with these findings so much as "mock them," at least based on the skin-deep analysis offered in the article. The constraints limiting this top twenty list are: no actively war-torn cities and no cities in the US or Canada or Western Europe. I wonder if they weren't trying to be neighborly, too, since Bogota and the Dominican Republic are the only western hemisphere cities mentioned. The DR? That's where my cousin enjoyed his honeymoon, for Pete's sake. And never mind the ongoing drug violence tearing apart northern México,2 or that Haiti is plagued by gangs, poverty, and despair.3 The list seems to still be on-track at number one, after that it gets stupid fast. But you can almost see our house in the picture for number nine. [Cavin]

Then, a 1 sided conversation ensued...

To which Blogger Mr. Cavin added:

3. And see here, I’m not trying to paint any place as hell on Earth or anything, I am just pointing out that it’s easy to draw misconceptions with a list so distractingly wrongheaded. Under these lights, it’s easy to misunderstand the overstated dangers of Delhi or Nairobi in comparison with the unstated dangers of the places I’ve mentioned. They don’t even mention the terrifying plague of pirate cabs in México City? My god, Guangzhou, China, must be the scariest place on the planet. Conversely, people who do work in the US border towns of Ciudad Juarez or Matamoros should be given every consideration for the harrowing lifestyle they’ve had to adopt in the midst of the ongoing drug war. Losing any of that distinction to me, while I live in the safest city I’ve ever set foot in, just seems silly.

Friday, April 03, 2009 3:48:00 AM  

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