Chloe Harrold's Column for The HR Director on HR Blunders in the Apprentice

3 mins

Posted on 15 Oct 2015

Doyle Clayton has been commissioned by The HR Director to write about some of the choice HR blunders committed by candidates on BBC's The Apprentice.  Chloe Harrold's first column, repeated below, was published today at .   Look out for her next column tomorrow.  

Picture: BBC The Apprentice

Each year we watch the candidates on The Apprentice as they are put through their paces in a series of business challenges and this year is billed to be the “toughest yet”. At times their performance, behaviour, and attitude is excruciating to watch, but that’s what makes good TV, isn’t it?! 

Each week for The HR Director I will follow the 2015 series watching out for the biggest HR blunders or the next disaster waiting to happen. Remember Lord Sugar is no stranger to the Employment Tribunals, having triumphed over 2010 Apprentice winner, Stella English, who sued for constructive unfair dismissal in 2013. Preparing for the show I sat through the interview clips of candidates and it is brimming with corkers.

Mergim Butaja sets the bar high, billing himself “God’s Gift” and “a role model for everyone in the country, and the world”, fast forward to the actual show and Butaja automatically alienates with his sexist views: “I just want to prove a point that men can sell more than women”. If that didn’t get your discrimination alarm bells ringing then Brett Butler-Smythe would have solved that with his contribution to the conversation: “This task will be problematic – women and fish”. Well Butler-Smythe, the only thing that your female colleagues seemed to have a problem with was your attitude!

I can’t decide whether I’m shocked, surprised or just disappointed that misogynistic views like these are held by anyone, let alone by self-proclaimed entrepreneurs; comments like these in the workplace can see an employer facing claims of sex discrimination. What’s even more worrying is that Butaja and Butler-Smythe are men in positions of power in business – what hope do women working with these men have of being seen, and treated, equally?

Some may see these comments as harmless banter, and if I’m in the mood for giving these two the benefit of the doubt (not really, but here goes) that may have been their intention. Unfortunately, anyone offended by comments like these in the workplace can sue the employer, and name the offenders as individual respondents, regardless of the intention behind their comments. So, buck up your ideas Butaja and Butler-Smythe, it’s the 21st century and we all know that women have an equal part to play. It wouldn’t hurt to also keep in mind that one of your mentors is Baroness Karen Brady, Good Luck you two!

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