Slice her up, poor cow

24 07 2018

“You’re not the boss of me!”

That’s pretty much my reaction to policies like WeWork’s decision to ban meat.

Now, two things: One, WeWork is not, in fact, the boss of me, but as someone who works (for others) for a living, I have had and do have bosses—who get to, at work, boss me around.

Two, they’re not actually banning meat: employees can still bring their own meat-infested lunches to work. The ban is actually a decision not to reimburse meaty lunch expenses, nor to provide flesh at company-sponsored events.

For environmental reasons, they say: “The company estimates that the policy will save 445.1m pounds of CO2 emissions and 15,507,103 animals by 2023.”

Uh huh. As Felix Salmon notes, however:

WeWork, of course, has a substantial environmental impact of its own, almost none of which is food-related. It manages 10 million square feet of office space in 76 cities around the world, including Warsaw and Chengdu; across its 406 locations, some have much higher carbon footprints than others. As a tenant in those buildings, WeWork has very little control over how much energy they waste, but if it wanted to, it could confine itself to LEED-certified buildings. That way, landlords would have a strong economic incentive to make their buildings energy-efficient and therefore attractive to WeWork and other environmentally conscious tenants.

That might cut into the bottom line, however, whereas cutting out cows, well, if that happens to save the company money, what a happy coincidence!

Yes, I am skeptical of their reasoning, but even if I’d grant the founders’ sincerity (and I don’t: as Salmon notes, co-founder Miguel McKelvey “is building a multimillion-dollar mountaintop house in Utah”), I’d still see this as of a piece of company’s butting into their workers’ (non) business.

Again, it’s probably unfair to WeWork to lump them in with companies which coerce their employees into wellness programs, ask for social media passwords, or otherwise police their behavior off the job—again, WeWork is simply saying “we’ll pay for this, we won’t pay for that”—and it doesn’t engage in the kinds of intrusive surveillance of on-the-clock conduct that you find at too many companies, but, goddamn, it seems like just one more way for the boss to boss you around.

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